A music scene is an ecosystem, change just one part and the whole thing is affected.
We live in a time where people power seems more present than ever. As it becomes easier to report on and share what we hold important in our lives, it is easier now to grow our movements.
In December 2018, it was announced that Guildford Crescent was to be re-developed and three of its buildings were to be demolished. This little corner of Wales’ capital city was home to three businesses: Madeira Restaurant, Thai House and the music venue Gwdihŵ. The outrage was immediate within Cardiff and its music scene.
For the music lovers and makers, one of the best-loved venues in the city was to close after ten years. Throughout its tenure, it had hosted the smallest local bands struggling to get themselves heard, to the growing touring acts who would go on to play arenas and castles in our city. For the workers and guests of the restaurants, family businesses were disappearing with no recourse.
One person took it upon himself to begin a movement, to protest this unwanted action by a private landlord and to grow awareness about a place that he loved. Gwdihŵ was so intrinsic to Cardiff’s music scene and he demanded that it be given relief. Although there was an initial focus on one venue, the campaign grew as he learnt more about the street and the people behind it. The people behind these businesses and supporters of the scene joined him to campaign for the street.
The movement was about more than just the buildings that were to go. Eighty jobs were lost before the buildings were closed and boarded up with sheet metal at the end of January of this year. The corner once vibrant and thriving now lies quiet and ghostly, despite retaining its bright colours. The fate of its businesses either continues quietly elsewhere, has vanished completely or is yet to emerge anew.
Within this movement though comes hope. It showed not only Cardiff but also the whole of the UK that this fast growing movement was enough to reinvigorate a belief in people. The movement showed that with our numbers, with our ability to share and report, with our feet on the ground and (most importantly recognised with this award) with our music that we could be heard.
This year’s outstanding contribution award goes to Daniel Minty and the team behind Save Guildford Crescent.
Written by Ed Townend, photos by Hannah Tottle