During our first year we offered a programme of ’52 Things’ made with and for the city’s creative community to showcase the fantastic people and places in our city. You can find the full 52 here.

This week British Dance Edition (BDE) arrives in Cardiff and Newport. From 15-18 March hundreds of people from across the UK and around the globe will take part in this showcase for British dance. The event combines sessions for delegates with a range of public performances at Wales Millennium Centre and The Riverfront. Paul Kaynes joined National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) in 2015 as its chief executive. 

Can you tell us a bit about your work? National Dance Company Wales is a contemporary dance company that performs around Wales, the rest of the UK and overseas. We have a company of 7 dancers based at the Dance House at Wales Millennium Centre, where we create and make all of our work. In addition to performing in theatres, we’re also planning to create work for the outdoors and unlikely spaces for dance, as well as continuing our hugely successful programme of training and participation in dance on tour and at our base.

My job is as chief executive, so I’m responsible for leading and developing the company in every way, working alongside Artistic Director, Caroline Finn. On BDE my role is as one of the four presenting organisations – along with Wales Millennium Centre, Chapter and Newport Live/Riverfront. Why have you chosen to work in Cardiff? What inspires you about being here?There’s something interesting and different happening in Cardiff creatively at present: the combination of talent development, the attractiveness of the city as a place to live, and the sense of being different to England with a distinct culture and atmosphere all attracted me.

And the experience has surpassed expectations – it feels like we’re at a critical moment and the arts and creative sector have a chance to lead an exciting agenda. The Deputy Minister for Culture has talked about wanting to make Wales the most creative nation in Europe. It’s a hugely ambitious aim but it could be achieved if we work together creatively. You’ve invited British Dance Edition to come to Cardiff. What is it? And why is it important?NDCWales is one of 4 organisations hosting British Dance Edition – a dance showcase which is held in a different location every two years. This is the first time it’s been in Cardiff and Newport, and we’ll be welcoming around 400 delegates and over 100 artists and performers from around the world to see the very best of British dance, including several Welsh artists such as Jo Fong, Gwyn Emberton, Ballet Cymru, Vertical Dance, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, and ourselves.

It’s an amazing opportunity to show programmers and artists from around the world just how dynamic and exciting the Welsh dance scene is at present, and to show off Cardiff whilst we’re at it. We will be ensuring we make contact with a large number of promoters who are interested in booking our work so our future success, in part, depends on it.

What challenges have you found in working in Cardiff?A lot of our touring work happens around Wales – in places like Llanelli, Llandudno, Milford Haven, Aberystwyth, Mold and Newtown amongst others. From a simple geographical point of view Cardiff could be more central! I’ve enjoyed travelling around the nation meeting venue managers and listening to audiences who come and see our work but sometimes it can take a long time to get places (though in the process the landscape is often stunning!).

And we’ve got a long way to go on the diversity of the arts sector – I’m struck that the range of people involved in the arts could be more diverse and needs to be if we’re going to reflect and inspire all of the city we serve.

How successful has Cardiff been at making itself a creative capital city, particularly in your area of work?There’s a very exciting group of independent dance artists working in and around Cardiff at present. There’s a distinctive Welsh dance voice emerging, which feels materially different to what’s happening elsewhere in the UK. The quality and originality of ideas is starting to get noticed outside Wales, and BDE will be one place to see that.

More widely, the performing arts sector in Cardiff is impressive, especially for a city of its size. With the Sherman’s successful UK tour of Iphigenia in Splott, National Theatre Wales’ new Artistic Director Kully Thiarai, NoFit State in New York, and the work of many other arts organisations, there’s an opportunity to build on an emerging cultural brand for Cardiff and for Wales. It needs time and investment and it requires people to work together with generosity and respect - but that’s exactly what Cardiff arts people have in bucket loads so it’s achievable.

Which 3 things need to happen to make Cardiff a more creative city?

  • People working together with generosity and respect – continuing some of the momentum created by the cuts campaign
  • Recognition inside and outside Cardiff of just how exciting the creative scene is
  • More diversity of people in the sector, audiences and work

Describe your favourite creative place in Cardiff.I’m really impressed by the work of Rubicon Dance in Adamsdown. Their studios host countless dance programmes for the community every week and they run a series of courses for emerging young dancers. They reach a very broad range of people in a way that I think the rest of the performing arts sector could learn from. Every day people from all backgrounds create dance there, some of it at a very high standard. It’s an inspiring place to hang out.

What’s next for you? What projects are on the horizon, what new ideas are you working on?We’ve got some ambitious plans for the next year or two – major collaborations with some non-dance companies in Cardiff and beyond which (we hope) will result in a moment to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and a very different kind of touring show in 2018.

This year we’re planning a showcase of interesting European work in the summer, staging a family Christmas show at the Dance House, creating a dance piece for festivals and non-theatre spaces and taking part in the ‘Festival of Voice’ this June. We’re exploring how we can make a piece of dance experienced wholly digitally. And that’s quite apart from working with some amazing European choreographers on our tours to theatres.

What do you think Creative Cardiff should try to achieve?Bring people together and gain recognition for the innovation and dynamism of the sector. That’s how we will contribute to Wales becoming the most creative nation in Europe.