Cardiff’s Creative Communities Are Being Decimated

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard write for Clash...

Today – July 19th – is being dubbed 'Freedom Day' by authorities.

Guidelines are being relaxed, regulations are being pushed back – bars, clubs, and venues are beginning to grapple with something approaching normality.

To some, it's time to go back to the way things were. For others, though, the way things were – the Old Normal – was fraught with division and unrest, built on an unequal playing field.

Take Cardiff. The Welsh city has a buzzing nightlife, one underpinned by a dense network of creative communities.

Yet it's under threat from the very people who are meant to safe guard it. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard explore this issue on their new single, with 'Crescent Man vs Demolition Man' exposing recent events in Cardiff.

In his own words, frontman Tom Rees says…

"There’s a street in Cardiff called Guildford Crescent that was recently demolished to make way for some high-rise monstrosity that left a long line of independent businesses dead and buried.”

"Cardiff is kind of morphing into such a culturally devoid hellscape that the only solution the mind can conjure is relying on the intervention of some all powerful superhero capable of turning back time or maybe allocating public funds responsibly.With every failed protest I’m increasingly of the opinion that anyone who believes in effective protest (on this matter at least) might as well believe in superheroes, and even then I still think the fat cats would get one on us.”

Writing for Clash, Tom Rees writes about his fears for Cardiff's creative networks, and what must be done to safe guard the physical spaces that allow them to prosper.

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I’ve been playing a lot of DOOM: ETERNAL lately which seems like a bit of a weird flex for me but something about saving the Earth from a human-turned-demon army commanded by a higher and seemingly omnipotent race of robot deities excites me. I guess pursuing virtual justice is a little more exciting and effective than pursuing real justice.

Now I know the story of hell cracking open for the residents of the fiery realm below to enslave our people in order to create an infinitely powerful and renewable energy source sounds like it bears little relevance to the state of culture and history in Cardiff, but hear me out.  

Over the past few years Cardiff has seen the closure of several music venues and art galleries at the behest of private companies and more importantly private money. Most famously, Gwdihw, a vital stepping stone venue for up and coming bands was viciously demolished along with other family-owned businesses to pave the way for a 29-storey apartment tower.

Grotesque in it’s very description, this isn’t the only cultural site that has been executed in the interest of cash flow. The Abacus, an art gallery and venue showcasing the work of Cardiff’s most exciting visual artists was fucked off for a Boots, The Moon Club was silenced by a chain of bars where you can pretend you’re living in the fucking prohibition, and Dempsey’s & Four Bars, a spot that I played innumerable times when I was but a boy was bought out by Gareth Bale and turned into Eleven’s, a sports bar where you can snort cocaine and eat chicken wings whilst watching golf on six different television screens.

What’s even worse is that in the case of Gwdihw, the council have run a long victory lap at the result of convincing the private developers of the now demolished estate to retain the original facade of the buildings that once stood there. I don’t know about you, but if you killed my best friend and then wore their face as a mask, and told me they were still alive, I wouldn’t believe you.

The story of DOOM is all about the transformation of things we consider to be fundamental principles of our way of life. The planet we inhabit, the institutions we serve, even the ownership of our own bodies. It’s also very much about ripping demons limb form limb, but in an attempt to make this piece seem vaguely poignant, it’s mainly about transformation.

Wales as a country has a lot of these principles. The country’s collective consciousness attributes a whole deal of meaning to the history of our nation, it’s natural beauty and above all of these things, it’s cultural successes. Tom Jones is to us what Apollo was to the Ancient Greeks, maybe with Michael Sheen as Chronos or something.

With all of these principles acknowledged, it’s clear to see that in Cardiff, the capital city of a country that holds these successes so dear, we are experiencing our own transformation, a transformation that is destroying our cities cultural heritage and replacing it with an imposter, an agent of new culture bearing a disfigured likeness to the culture we once had, a culture we once knew as ours to be proud of, that nowis trying to convince us nothing has changed – kind of like when Mystique in X-Men tries to convince the whole gang she is in actual fact, Wolverine, but mainly like in DOOM.

Man, into demon.

At the heart of this transformation we have the usual culprit of injustice, the local council, who despite all of our pleading and protesting and performing and pledging have chosen to stay ambivalent. This, given the context of our countries pride in it’s cultural success, should be considered treason, which is a big word that sounds very ‘your mate’s boyfriend studied Politics and Business at Queen Mary and he knows the quickest path to proportional representation’, but it’s true.

Our national parks or Cardiff Castle would never be at stake, but the councils shift towards pandering to private companies to score a little extra cash has promoted the individualistic ideology held by record companies, streaming platforms, galleries and art realtors everywhere that the ‘artist will get on with it anyway’, creating a bargain basement economy in which degradation is the main currency. Not talent, not community, not culture, but degradation of the mind and soul. Sounds like demons to me.

I hear you asking ‘well, what are you going to do about it?’, and the answer is we’ve tried many things, if not every thing. Hey, even writing a rock song about fictional superheroes that sarcastically jests at the councils lack of intervention didn’t get their attention, who knew? I guess all that’s left is to wait for our own Doom Slayer to drop down to Earth and slay all those high rise buildings with a plasma rifle or something… yeah, guess I’ll just wait for that.

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Photo Credit: Lily Brown

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