Cardiff’s Riverside community develops its long-term cultural hub

A community cultural project by the organisation Gentle/Radical opens at the Wyndham Street Centre in Riverside

Picture of the co-working space and library of Gentle/Radical

Gentle/Radical revamped the Wyndham Street Centre which now offers a quiet co-working space loaded with books

Riverside has never had a permanent centre for cultural events – until now. The Gentle/Radical organisation felt this needed to change, so they created the Al’Mishaal project. 

The aim of their project is to offer consistent and permanent cultural provisions to the multicultural neighbourhood of the Riverside. Launched on 7 October, Al’Mishaal involves food gatherings, a co-working space and a library. 

Rabab Ghazoul, director of Gentle/Radical, has lived on the Riverside since 1996. She wants to create a long-term cultural identity in the neighbourhood so people don’t have to go to other parts of the town to access culture.  

Al’Mishaal revolves strongly around its community as projects are created by them and for them. “We put a call out for the library,” Rabab said, “and literally had hundreds and hundreds of books given to us”.  

In the long-term, the organisation hopes to involve local neighbours. “We have different projects that ideally would be taken on by people from the community,” she said. “It is much more viable to find and nourish an appetite amongst local people.” 

If the neighbourhood is the priority, they always welcome everyone, Rabab said.

Bethan Marlow, Welsh writer now living in Miami, is a perfect example of Gentle/Radical’s reach. She has followed the organisation via social media from afar, and recently got to enjoy their new space.

Bethan went to an open-day at their co-working space and felt it was a quiet, productive, well-connected place to work in. “Then we all had lunch together!” she said. 

The principle of sharing food and taking time to socialise with others resonated with her. Bethan added, “When did we start eating sandwiches alone in our cars or by our desks?” 

The co-working space is accessible half of the week. People who can pay end up subsidising for no or low-income people ; it includes students and asylum seekers.

Rabab said, “It is people who do not have access to cultural activities we are devoted to.”