Returning this summer; the Swansea International Jazz Festival

The musical treat based in Swansea returns for the fourth year running this June – find the line-up here

The sweet sound of jazz will ring out once again this summer season with the return of a popular jazz event in the maritime quarter of the city that showcases the best jazz talent.

Swansea International Jazz Festival is returning for a fourth year from June 15 to 18. More than 50 events will be taking place at 15 sites on land and 1 on the water.

“We are putting together a strong and diverse programme for 2017,” says festival creative director Dave Cottle who also programmes the Wednesday night charms at Swansea Jazzland in Uplands.

“We have the musicians from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing series bringing their 14-piece band All Fired Up, which plays the music of Earth Wind and Fire. It’ll be their first performance outside of London.””

Dave Cottle continued: “Ruby Turner, fresh from touring with Jools Holland, will be making an appearance with her own band, along with Joe Stilgoe presenting ‘Songs from Films’.

“To mark the occasion of the 90th birthday of legendary jazz pianist Stan Tracey, his son Clark presents the Stan Tracey legacy Octet, and another pianist is Chris Ingham, who will be presenting his jazz quartet, featuring the jazz of Dudley Moore.

“Skelton/Skinner Septet, with musicians from the BBC Big Band and the John Wilson Orchestra, will be presenting the best of British jazz.”

“Big band fans are well catered for with the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, plus the festival big band The Power of Gower, featuring a mixture of local musicians alongside festival headline performers.”

“We also have the Statoil Big Band from Norway.”

The Dylan Thomas Theatre and the Dylan Thomas Centre both based in Swansea will host the ticketed performances with a varied programme of jazz along with workshops and a South Wales Schools Big Band workshop and concert.

There are also a number of free events at pubs all around the maritime quarter, with Swansea community boat Copper Jack also offering waterborne jazz. The full fringe programme will be announced shortly.

The upcoming 2017 event is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Swansea Council and for the fourth successive year the festival backer is Swansea-based Prescott Jones Insurance Solutions.

Managing director Ed Prescott said: “We relish our continued support for an event which we think adds a lot to the Swansea cultural scene. A jazz festival just seems to fit in the marina and SA1 area.”

A spokesman from Swansea council said: “Dave Cottle and his team are doing Swansea proud with their efforts. The festival attracts visitors from away, so it is a great boost to tourism and has increased Swansea’s reputation as a centre for festivals.”

And for yet another year the patron of the festival is Penclawdd’s Sir Karl Jenkins, the world’s most-performed living composer.

For more information on the international jazz festival, visit sijf.co.uk

 

Swansea absolutely ‘thrilled’ by making 2021 UK City of Culture shortlist

The group behind Swansea’s proposal to become the UK’s City of Culture for 2021 has said they have learnt lessons from missing out to Hull just four years ago.

The city has been shortlisted together with Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland, but a bid by St Davids in Pembrokeshire failed to get through.

The City of Culture for 2021 winner will be broadcast in December.
Film director Kevin Allen, who penned Swansea-based Twin Town in 1997, said he was “”thrilled””.

“”I’d be very surprised if we hadn’t [made the shortlist] to be honest if you looked at what we were up against and what we’ve got to offer,”” declared Mr Allen, who is a member of the bidding team.

“”We got close to the last one with Hull. I think we only didn’t get it last time because it was such a last-minute bid. This is going to be very thorough and the work starts now.

“”We’ve got a lot of work to do. Irrespective of whether we get it or not, in the end it will be worthwhile because it’s starting lots of great enterprises.””

It is the second time that Swansea has been nominated for the title, the city lost to Hull in the contest for the 2017 prize.

The team behind the 2021 bid had formerly said it hoped to host a series of events which play on the “”‘lovely, ugly’ Swansea that Dylan Thomas describes.””

The city now has until the end of September to put forward a final bid before the winner of the third City of Culture is awarded by the government of the UK.

If they win, the city, which is set for a £500m rejuvenation, would hold a succession of cultural events, including festivals, art and theatre recitals, following in the tracks of Derry/Londonderry and the 2017 title-holder Hull.

It would also give the city of Swansea access to a £3m Heritage Lottery Grant.

“”The role that people play is really up to them,”” Mr Allen added. “”It’s up to us to encourage and develop channels of communication – break down the barriers of perception and conception.

“”The perception of culture to some people is scary and it’s all about literature and the arts council and stuff like that but it’s not. I say that openly.

“”I farmed for eight years of my life. I learned about the culture of the field. I have respect for people who see art in everything.

“”It’s not about being snotty, it’s not about being a snob, it’s not about being highly intellectual.

“”It’s about being considerate with each other and communicating and developing ways of enriching our lives and making our communities better. It’s all culture.””

In the meantime, the line-up behind the unsuccessful bid by St Davids said that they were “”disappointed”” not to have quite reached the shortlist for the tight competition.

Review: Cafe TwoCann in Swansea a proven gem for the evening diner

The Taste Team tested out TwoCann in Swansea and discovered that it’s a great place with tasty food

Situated in a grade 2 listed structure, originally a grains store at Swansea Docks, Cafe TwoCann now resides amongst the restored city waterfront region of SA1, fringed by high rise flats and offices, affluent yachts and lively young professionals.

The front of the café oversees the award-winning Sail Bridge and, weather permitting, tables sit on each side of the building making the most of remarkable sunsets.

Within, exposed brickwork nods to the building’s industrial past though it’s modern use is enhanced by huge light-giving panes of glass, stainless steel and sleek furniture.

TwoCann’s firmness on being called a “cafe” rather than a restaurant only increases it’s warm, friendly demeanour.

And it prides itself on a daytime menu of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, burgers and salads, plus a selection of sweet treats.

For £7.95 you’ll enjoy a Welsh breakfast of bacon, laverbread, cockles, fried egg, mushrooms and toast. Or for the same price a pulled pork barbecue sandwich on toasted Brioche with apple chutney.

In the evenings however, this humble alcove comes alive.

Proprietors Catherine and Dennis Cann alter the menus each month, guaranteeing the freshest seasonal food in their meals.

Prices are very sensibly set, £23 for two courses or £27 for three.

I began with an elegant twist on a famed Swansea staple – cockles and garlic butter on brioche.

Over the table from me, the rabbit and pistachio terrine, accompanied by rhubarb chutney and toasted focaccia was another treat.

The main course, a rib-eye steak, perfectly captured the spirit of TwoCann, characteristic British ingredients, prepared simply and delectably.

Accompanied by sauté potatoes and a wine and onion sauce, this was a pleasure for the taste-buds.

The other half relished thyme scented supreme of chicken, cream of chanterelle mushroom and a fondant potato. Her uncommon quiet suggested it was to her taste!

Following such a traditional meal, how could I overlook the sticky date pudding, white chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Across from me, lemon posset was the dessert of choice, complete with meringue, macaroons and fresh berries.

Once again, no complaints there.

At the risk of fault-finding, and I confess I am looking for fault here, there were perhaps just the smallest finishing dashes missing from this dinnertime, which would push a spectacular dining experience from four to five stars.

The steak was possibly cooked 20 seconds too long for my taste (medium rare) and both main meals could have done with a dash more of the delightful additional sauces. Though on this I must declare that I am the kind of person who sinks his food in gravy.

And again, these are slight remarks, at an establishment that does not seem to pursue Michelin standards.

For the amount paid, this place is purely a jewel.

Find it at:
Cafe Twocann
Kings Rd, Swansea SA1 8PL
Contact: 01792 458000

 

Airshow in Wales said to be worth ‘record £8.4m’ to economy of Swansea

More than 250,000 people are said to have visited the air display show in early July

This summer’s Wales Airshow was rated to have reached a record value contribution of £8.4 million to the economy of the city of Swansea, a newly released study has announced.

An economic impact study that was conducted by an independent body has discovered that the event that stretched over two whole days has created more money for the city of Swansea than ever before recorded and that it has attracted the greatest number of visitors ever seen at the Wales Air Show.

Swansea Council are the organisers behind the greatly enjoyed Wales Air Show that runs every year, with the city’s very own Swansea University also acting as the main sponsor of the event for 2017.

In excess of 250,000 people visited the air show in early July this year alone to continue to enjoy performances from a whole host of different aircraft including the famous Red Arrows of the RAF, the Lauren Richardson bi-plane, a MiG-15 aircraft and the widely celebrated Bristol Blenheim.

Councillor for the city Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and major projects, said in a statement on the event that: “The air show is now a key anchor event in our annual events programme in Swansea and these encouraging figures show that it’s continuing to grow in popularity.

“Not only did the Wales Airshow event give world-class entertainment to a record total of more than 250,000 people, it also generated a record £8.4 million for Swansea’s economy this year – that’s over £600,000 more than last year.

“”This is a very important factor because it is the businesses of the city of Swansea who benefit from the influx of visitors and the increased spending, from our hotels and bed and breakfasts to our shops, activity providers, restaurants and pubs.

“Along with other events and activities, the Wales air show has a key role in supporting a Welsh tourism industry that is worth over £400 million and around 5,000 jobs for residents every year for Swansea.

“Both face-to-face and those surveys carried out over the internet with hundreds of 2017 visitors of the air show made it clear that at least 92 per cent of visitors would attend the same event again in the future, with over 80 per cent saying that they would be keen to visit every year. Around 29 per cent of the people questioned in the surveys were first time visitors to the Wales Airshow as well. “

Those visitors from further afield who decided to make the most of what the city and the air show have to offer stayed in the city for an average of three nights in Swansea for the event in hotels, bed and breakfasts or other similar accommodation and spent around £149 per room on the accommodation.

SWANSEA’S CITY CENTRE PREPARES FOR TRANSFORMATION

Preliminary site investigation works for stage one of the Swansea Central advancement are nearly underway.

Due to begin next week, these inquiries will ground the way for the numerous new attractions, counting a 3,500 capacity digital covered stadium.

Other highlights are set to include a digitised square, a bridge for pedestrians that stretches over Oystermouth Road, a brand new hotel, and a new car park. Phase one is anticipated to commence this time next year.

Set to be finished off in 2020, the stage one amenities would form just part of a year-long celebration of culture – on the basis that Swansea should beat its rivals to be named as the United Kingdom City of Culture for the year 2021.

Rival cities for the honour of the title include Coventry, Paisley, Sunderland and Stoke-on-Trent.

Cllr Rob Stewart, a Council Leader for the city of Swansea, said: “Planning consent is in place for the Swansea Central development, a top class operator has been selected to run the digital indoor arena and we’ve started the search for a hotel operator, so a great deal of progress on our plans to transform the city centre has already been made.”

“But the site investigation works starting later this month and lasting several weeks into September will be the first time people see activity on site, which is further evidence of our commitment to deliver these enormously exciting plans for the benefit of Swansea people, Swansea businesses and visitors to the city.

“These works are needed to inform the detail of construction, which will be starting this time next year. Detailed designs will also be announced in coming months.”

A study that is looking into the economic effect of phase one of the development plans has uncovered that the additional features to the city can be expected to generate around £35.4 million as well as generating 560 jobs for workers during the two-year construction scheme.

Once in operation, the innovative amenities will be worth £11.9m a year to the economy of Swansea and will continue to support up to 469 jobs each year.

Cllr Rob Stewart went on to explain that: “The new indoor arena will attract up to 200 days of concerts, exhibitions and other events every year, but as well as leading to world class attractions of this kind, these plans will open up jobs and opportunities for local people, businesses and supply chains.

“They’ll also act as a catalyst for other city centre sites and generate more footfall and spending for our existing traders, helping lead to even more investment in future.””

The second stage of the proposed developments will realise a series of new shops, restaurants, cafes, a boutique cinema and other new facilities that are set to be introduced on the site that was formerly known as the St David’s shopping centre site in the centre of Swansea city.

The Script are set to perform in Cardiff on the Welsh leg of their next tour

Tickets for fans to see the popular Irish trio are due to go on sale from next week

The world famous band The Script have just announced that they will be coming to play in the city of Cardiff as a part of their upcoming tour of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The Script are a three piece band who originally hail from and formed as a band in the city of Dublin in Ireland. They have been met with global success over the past few years following the release of their first album also titled The Script way back in 2008.

The popular Irish three piece are all set to play at Cardiff’s very own Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday the 20th of February in a brand new show that features their fourth number one album.

The fresh announcement of the upcoming show comes just as their new album Freedom Child has reached the very top of the Official Albums chart in the United Kingdom.

Tickets for the newly announced gig in the centre of Cardiff will be released on general sale at 9.30am sharp on Friday, September 15.

On their most recent achievement the band have released a statement saying to their fans that: “You guys may never understand just how happy me and the guys are to have achieved our fourth number one album.

“You see, we have worked so hard on it and ultimately the fans decided whether it is going to be a strong album or not. We’re so so so lucky and are humbled by the support that the fans have given to us, the band, and to this new fourth album that has reached the number one spot in the UK charts.”

This particular album by the band was recorded between the cities of both London and Los Angeles in the United States of America with the band deciding for the very first time to work with a number and variety of external songwriters and music producers.

The trio have sold more than 1.4 million tickets across 203 headline shows since first forming as a band back in Dublin, Ireland in the year 2001.

Fans who are hoping to get to see the band The Script at their Cardiff show on Tuesday 20th February can try and pick up tickets online from the official website of the Motorpoint Arena at motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk or they can also get in touch for tickets via the arena box office on the telephone number 02920 224488.

CAPITAL OF CULTURE BID RULED OUT BY CARDIFF

The city of Cardiff have just announced the decision to rule itself out of a highly celebrated bid to be baptised as the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

Despite the previous interest shown by the city residents and council members, Cardiff City Council have just announced the decision, saying that at the moment the “”time wasn’t right”” for a bid for the title. The plan instead is to use the resources that would go into the bid to instead focus on more and alternative ways of boosting the reputation that Cardiff has a city and a cultural hub, starting by building on its existing arts and creative faculties sector.

In each year of the competition to be named the European Capital of Culture, two cities from two separate countries from across the continent of Europe host the esteemed title giving each year. For the 2023 competition, these nominated countries are set to be the United Kingdom and Hungary. Plans to bid for the title have already been announced by various cities across the country including those received from Nottingham, Leeds, Dundee, Milton Keynes and Belfast. The winner will be selected from amongst these competitors and is set to be revealed by the end of the year 2018.

This will not be the first time that the United Kingdom will play host to this highly significant event. The United Kingdom has actually hosted the European Capital of Culture previously on two occasions; one being in Glasgow in the year 1990 and then once again in the city of Liverpool more recently in 2008.

A spokesperson from the Cardiff City Council and based in the heart of the city has released a statement saying that: “”Following discussions arranged by the council with leaders from the city’s arts community and creative sector, a consensus emerged that, from a standing start, the time wasn’t right to make a bid to become the European Capital of Culture.

“Several other ideas and projects were discussed however, which we are starting to take forward in partnership with the arts and the creative sector, looking at new ways of improving and growing the reputation of Cardiff, and indeed the wider region, as one of the UK’s leading cultural destinations.”

This announcement then that the city of Cardiff has decided not to run for the title and recognition of being the European Capital of Culture in 2023 means that the city can be expected to see a great amount of work go into other areas of the city in need of attention over the coming year. While these local improvements are carried out the city will eagerly await the announcement at the end of 2018 as to which UK city that has decided to make a bid will take the esteemed title.

New cocktail bar with a secret garden theme set to open soon in Cardiff

The Botanist cocktail chain offers cocktails served in characteristic plant pots and infamous hanging kebabs

An extravagant cocktail chain is set to open the newest bar in its repertoire right here in the centre of Cardiff.

The Botanist cocktail bar is already well established with its branches in Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Leeds but is now hoping to increase its popularity with its first site in Wales. This latest location is tipped to be appearing on Church Street right in the centre of the city.

This venue is going to be just the latest in a recent boom of new cocktail bars opening across Cardiff. The Alchemist have announced already that it will be opening a new site on St Mary Street, at the former Natwest bank, next March.

Also opening not too long ago was the secret bar The Dead Canary which opened at the end of 2015. This was followed in the October of the next year by the popular Dirty Martini after and then the newest member of the Be At One chain opened across the road. The Pennyroyal cocktail lounge has also just opened on High Street in the city.

Describing itself as a “secret garden” on its website, The Botanist “started with a seed, an idea to create a secret garden of food and drink.

“A place where antiquities and trinkets hang from the walls, and resident botanists craft unusual concoctions.

“Some arrive for the live music, some for the conversation; but here at The Botanist, all can enjoy a wondrous occasion.”

This new venue is set to serve a variety of themed cocktails which it describes as being “interesting combinations of fresh fruit and citrus…alongside much more that mother nature has to offer”.

To provide some more variety and an additional novelty element, some beverages come served in drinking vessels as unusual as watering cans with some drinks also served in “pots and planters” to match the plant-based theme of the bar.

Their venues serve a full gin list as well as gin carafes.
Food includes nibbles, starters and mains – which include deli boards, pies, hanging kebabs and barbecue food.

The units have previously been home to a Poundstretcher store and most recently the Atma vegetarian restaurant. The application, for units 5 to 10 Church Street to be turned into a bar and restaurant, has been put in by parent company New World Trading Company.

The licensing application is for the bar to be allowed to play music and serve alcohol from 10am until 2am every day.

South Wales Police has objected to the application in a bid to prevent crime and disorder and prevent public nuisance. The city centre in an area where police routinely object due to high numbers of incidents.
Cardiff council’s licensing department has also objected due to the local of the bar.

The licensing hearing will be held on Friday, September 15 at City Hall in Cardiff.

CARDIFF RECOGNISED AS A POWERHOUSE FOR PROFESSIONAL AND FINANCIAL SERVICES

According to a set of newly published data provided by TheCityUK,
Cardiff city is fast becoming one of the top centres outside of the capital for finance.

The figures that have so far been shared show that the city of Cardiff has made great strides in becoming one of the most competitive locations for financial and professional services in the United Kingdom.

This success is all following the substantial inward investment into property, transport and technology which has led to the creation of a successful business centre in Cardiff.

This hub of success in the city is set to become home to numerous important financial and professional service firms such as Deloitte, Admiral and Lloyds Bank.

Cardiff can also boast of having one of the most vigorous talent pipelines in the whole of the country, with a recently released study from Deloitte and the Welsh Government discovering that more students per capita graduate in a subject related to their finance degree than in any other significant UK city.

The Welsh capital also has the accolade of being one of the most highly concentrated area of employees in the sector, with 10% of all staff employed directly in the financial sector or in a closely linked position.

These same employees have been confirmed as now contributing nearly £1.2 billion in to the economy of the UK, and so reinforcing the status of Cardiff as one of an up and coming powerhouse in the financial and professional services industry.

Significantly, this figure is also said to be higher than the contributions made by the same sector in other big cities like Sheffield (£1 billion) Liverpool (£917 million), and Aberdeen (£867 million).

Overall in 2015 alone, the financial and professional services of Wales added a gross added value or GVA of £3 billion to the economy of the UK.

The city of Cardiff is also consistently ranked as among the top in the UK for the quality of life of its residents and workers with its lesser cost of living, the world-class universities on offer and the vibrant culture. Each of these areas strongly contributes to this accolade attributed to the city of Cardiff.

Miles Celic, the Chief Executive of TheCityUK, has said that: “The financial and related professional services industry has become a major employer in Wales accounting directly for over 56,000 jobs and delivering huge value to the Welsh economy.

“Many businesses that come to Britain may first put down roots in London, but then they expand their operations across the country, to cities like Cardiff and Swansea, creating a deeper talent pool of skilled workers that benefits local and national businesses.

“In turn, strong regional financial centres like those in Wales boost the attractiveness of London as a global financial centre. Maintaining and supporting this positive ecosystem is critical to ensuring the UK remains a world-leading place to do business.”

Cardiff set to approve another massive tower block for students in the city

A what has been dubbed “landmark” development of four interconnected towers of student accommodation in the centre of Cardiff looks set to be approved in the upcoming weeks.

The plans show the ideas for developing four towers that would be connected to one another that are set to be built on the site of the existing Hallinans House, located just off of the junction between Fitzalan Place and Newport Road.

The building that currently exists on the site is set to be demolished to allow room for the four buildings of varying heights, each between 11 and 32 floors high.

Each of the towers would be covered in a copper, charcoal and zinc finish and the development overall would boast a total of 464 rooms for the students to live in.

There are also plans for the buildings to each contain a gym and a laundry station in addition to the quiet study areas and the open plan communal living spaces.

The plans suggest that the ground floor is set to have two commercial units and the development will include 134 spaces made available for bicycle users.

At the meeting of the Cardiff council planning committee on Wednesday, councillors have been strongly advised to approve the proposed scheme.

So far, one objection has been received from a Cathays resident who is concerned by the size of building.

“Such a development would be intimidating and threatening. The site is far too limited for such a high building.

“Young people who are leaving home – often for the first time, in a new and strange city – need accommodation in a much more civilised atmosphere. They need accommodation of a moderate size that has a feeling of human society.

“It is completely unrealistic to think that providing places to keep bikes is sufficient for students these days. A considerable number of them drive cars and certainly should permission be given for a development like this, it should be ensured that there are plenty places for parking cars so that the development does not cause more parking problems for other people who use that part of the city.”

Another objection was also received from the owners of the property which sits behind the site. The comment was put forward by RPS Planning and Development, and argues that no thought has been put into the “erosion of the Central and Bay Business Area”.

Other concerns have been voiced about adjacent properties being overshadowed by the build. “The overlooking and overshadowing is far greater than caused by the 2004 permission to extend Hallinans House. The impact upon privacy and amenity given the separation distance is again far greater than this permission. If development were to proceed it would stifle investment to convert Cromwell House to a hotel.”

Officers involved in the planning have protested that the proposals offer “an acceptable design” and will “provide a landmark feature that makes a positive contribution to this part of the city centre”.

The applicant, Boardroom Properties Ltd and Howells Properties, would have to pay £313,068 towards local schemes including air monitoring and alterations to roads.