CAER Studio

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of History, Archaeology & Religion


The Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely are vibrant communities full of creative talent. They are also communities with a remarkable heritage. From a Neolithic causewayed enclosure to twentieth century estates that were at the cutting edge of a social housing revolution; the rich heritage assets of this area encapsulate over 6,000 years of history. This concentration of remarkable heritage coupled with local creativity and talent represent wholly uncelebrated and undervalued community assets and a significant avenue for opportunity for communities that are facing serious social and economic challenges.

Caerau and Ely constitute the largest social housing estates in Wales. Despite strong community ties, the people that live there are burdened by significant social and economic deprivation, particularly high unemployment. Moreover, a disturbance in the summer of 1991 was publicized in the media as a 'riot' resulting in long lasting bad publicity that has given these communities a real stigma, particularly in the minds of residents of wider Cardiff and Wales.

CAER Studio builds on the award winning archaeological and historical co-research and artist-led co-productive methodologies and partnerships developed by the CAER Heritage project (CAER) over the past five years. To date, those methodologies have employed art and culture primarily to engage local people in archaeological and historical research. However, the CAER Studio will reverse the polarity of these methodologies by channelling the significant community interest and engagement in archaeology and history generated by CAER and employ it to involve community participants with a range of artistic and creative media.

In keeping with the ethos of CAER's community development partner ACE, the project will to take an asset based approach to arts, culture and heritage regeneration. Building on opportunities afforded by significant local heritage assets, community based arts and performance projects, vibrant social networks, a well-established timebank volunteer program and the skills of local people. CAER Studio will bring together artists, performers, residents, project volunteers, school pupils, teachers, development workers, academics and heritage professionals into a one year creative collective pursuing two principle project strands:

1. The CAER Collective: This will establish individual and collective aims and ambitions for a core cohort of local artists, developing strategies of entrepreneurial resilience and sustainability through mentoring, mutual support and nurturing talent. Inspired by archaeological and historical research into local heritage, this core collective will offer community-wide, inclusive opportunities for participation in arts and culture through a program of co-production workshops and activities - the ethos being that everyone can be a 'CAER Collective' artist. Through these strategies the CAER Collective will develop a range of 'creative products' based on or inspired by knowledge and artefacts from CAER's archaeological excavations and historical research projects, developing new skills, employment and social enterprise opportunities.
2. CBC: The CAER Broadcasting Company. The CAER collective will instigate a multi-channel broadcasting network, designed to challenge negative stereotypes and project a positive, vibrant representation of the communities of Caerau and Ely and their outstanding heritage. Targeting the general public of South Wales - CBC will co-ordinate an internet-based and social media PR campaign for the project duration. Instigated by a series of interactive art and writing workshops, CBC will explore the potential for beautiful, meaningful and powerful relationships between heritage and contemporary creativity through art, writing, film and music: in a variety of interconnected formats including a youtube channel, social media, performances and a newspaper.

Planned Impact

CAER's innovative approaches to research co-production have been nationally recognised. To date, the project has involved a myriad of non-HE partners (primary and secondary schools, community groups, youth workers, community development workers, local residents, artists, film makers, the National Museum of Wales, Glamorgan Archives etc.) alongside academics, undergraduates and postgraduates from a number of disciplines at Cardiff (history, archaeology, social sciences). A range of key strategies have been employed to ensure meaningful co-production and mutual benefit between the partners and participants. CAER Studio therefore draws on significant body of experience and tried and tested co-production strategies.

Over 2016, PI David Wyatt has been embedded in ACE developing a large Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage grant with local participants, community groups and institutions. The Hidden Hillfort project will involve local communities in researching, presenting and managing the remarkable monument of Caerau Hillfort. CAER STUDIO will be delivered in close synergy with the development phase of this transformative project: integrating arts, culture and local talent with heritage research to create a real buzz of confidence within the communities of Caerau and Ely while developing new life opportunities and employability skills for participants through:

Investing local people in heritage themed arts and culture, providing them with powerful media through which to showcase home grown talent and to encourage people from outside of Caerau and Ely to visit, rather than shun, this unique and vibrant area of Cardiff in synergy with the Hidden Hillfort project.

Addressing issues around exclusion from participation with arts and culture by engaging community participants with a range of creative media to address challenges and unfounded stigmas, leading to meaningful connections with arts and culture through valuing, developing and show-casing community talent and research.

Creative initiatives designed to break down barriers to education and employment for local adults and young people which incorporate accredited and non-accredited opportunities to develop new skills, enhance employability, educational progression and social enterprise opportunities through active participation arts and culture inspired by the co-produced research instigated by CAER Heritage.

Addressing issues of marginalisation and poverty working in collaboration with community partner ACE to significantly develop and enhance arts based community development, with community members as active participants, contributors and beneficiaries at all project stages.

Embedding CAER Studio into the local secondary school curriculum and co-creating an art installation for the reception area of the new build Cardiff West Community School (£30m project to be completed 2018) representing Caerau and Ely's rich heritage and cementing CAER's positive well established co-production research partnership with the school.

Building community confidence and social capital by challenging unfounded and negative stereotypes attributed to the communities of Caerau and Ely through community shaped 'creative products' and a media campaign (CBC) that promotes the area as an attractive heritage destination in synergy with with the HLF Hidden Hillfort Project.

Engaging a minimum of 20 local unemployed young people and adults and 30 local school pupils in heritage themed arts and culture initiatives, providing tangible social and economic benefits for participants through instigating sustainable arts and culture heritage themed social enterprise.

Enhancing and strengthening community partner ACE's co-production partnerships through the active engagement of new partners, and the consolidation and development of established institutional partnerships.

Helping all participating organisations to develop and enhance the skills and the commitment of staff.


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