A decade of CreativeMornings Cardiff

by Sarah Burley on 17 May 2024

By anyone’s standards ten years is quite a while, a good chunk of time. That, I realised the other day, is how long CreativeMornings/Cardiff has been going. CreativeMornings is now the world’s largest face-to-face creative community, with its monthly talk, free cup of coffee and All is Welcome ethos it just keeps growing with the brilliant Tina Roth-Eisenberg at the helm.

CreativeMornings Summit in NYC 2014, all the chapter hosts in one celebratory picture
CreativeMornings Summit NYC 2014

I had one of those weird, full circle moments recently when I was sitting on a desk next to someone who said, “Guess what? I’m thinking of applying to become the next Cardiff host.” We got chatting, and I got thinking of all the wonderful things, all the challenging things and all the things that have come to be as a consequence of having started the chapter ten years ago. 

One of the first CreativeMorning/Cardiff teams standing around the CreativeMornings logo
Some of the original CM/Cardiff team: Goldie, Melin, Steve, Hannah, Sarah, Paul, Sarah, James.

Team effort

I can tell you one thing for sure, it's all come a long way from the tea urn that I would lug along in the boot of the car to fill and switch on an hour before the first attendee arrived so that we could all have some coffee. Soon the likes of local coffee legends, Coaltown and Hard Lines started saving the day on the caffeine front. 

It was always a team effort to pull the events together, their friendly faces made the early start worth it every time. At every step of the way they helped to make it all happen, whilst also making it a lot of fun for all of us.

I've watched the team grow and change over the years and it always strikes me just how generous people can be, because of course, it's not just the team members themselves, it's often their friends, partners, and families that are helping behind the scenes too. 

Team pictures from over the years
Clockwise: Helen, Melin, Jenny, Lewis, Justin, Melin, Jenny, Gareth, Sarah, Callum, Lowri, Estar, Emina, Beth, Pete, Gareth, Melin, Luke, Gavin, Sarah, Neave, Jenny.
Sarah Burley presenting a CreativeMornings/Cardiff

The speakers

For sure, my favourite thing about CreativeMornings has always been the simplicity of it, every single event is free to attend and open to all. In some ways that makes it hard to attract speakers, people are short on time and giving up a couple of days to develop a talk for free, deliver it and chat to a load of strangers whilst you could be working can be, very understandably, a hard sell. 

On the other hand, it has a way of helping you uncover the kind of speakers, venues and sponsors who share the CreativeMornings approach. People who love what they do and want to share it for no other reason than for the sake of the work, creativity or idea. It can help persuade people to share who might not normally do so, the speakers who aren’t traditionally ‘speakers’, those were the best.

Clockwise: Gavin Strange, Suzanne Carpenter, Sean Rees, Phil Morgan, Betina Skovbro, Nick Hand, Lee John Phillips, Matthew Gough.

The hosts

Back to my desk a few weeks ago, Harri Owain had come into John&Jane to work with us for a while. He’s recently changed paths from Geology to Graphic Design so is full of great experience and fresh enthusiasm for working in the creative industry, a perfect fit for a CreativeMornings host you could argue. 

So it turns out that him and long term team/community member, Lowri Howells will be heading up the lovely Cardiff team going forward. If you’d like to see how they persuaded CM HQ to give them a shot, then their brilliant, and in Harri’s words "totally bonkers" application video edited by chapter videographer Pete, says it all. No doubt they will do a wonderful job in taking over the reins from current Cardiff host, Emina Redzepovic.

Photos of the new CreativeMornings/Cardiff hosts; Harri Owain and Lowri Howells.
New Hosts: Harri Owain and Lowri Howells.

Emina has been a wonderful host who truly understands the inclusivity portion of the CM Manifesto, she's managed to shine a light on experiences that simply aren’t spoken about enough. Emina also guided the chapter through the very choppy and difficult waters of running a live event in a post-covid world, where literally everything has changed and arguably will never be the same. She’s managed to keep the warmth and generosity in the chapter that keeps people coming back and that helps speakers trust CreativeMornings with their story.  

Photos of the past CreativeMornings/Cardiff hosts; Sarah Burley, Melin Edomwonyi, Keshia Firth, and Emina Redzepovic.
Hosts so far: Sarah, Melin, Keshia, Emina.

Keshia Firth helped to look after the chapter from 2021 for a couple of years, again the warmth and kindness of this host was tangible to us in the community and enabled the chapter to thrive, despite having to work with many virtual events and the unpredictability of post lockdown life. Keshia was very welcoming and was great at opening up the chapter to new volunteers and potential sponsors.

CreativeMornings/Cardiff newspaper

Then there was the larger than life, Melin Edomwonyi, she took over hosting duties from me back in 2016 and I knew that her love, charisma and experience of being on the team already would carry her in great stead as host. She kept us all laughing whilst showcasing some amazing speakers with incredible stories despite having to adapt to a virtual event with the onset of the pandemic. I have such admiration for her tenacity and for how well she has, and continues to tend to the local creative community.

The very first event

Then there was the time I was host, which began ten years ago this month with the lovely and very talented artist Barry John MBE, who gave our first-ever Cardiff talk. It was about how, for him, Freedom is Art. I loved how his story ended with the realisation that his artistic talent had been inside him and part of his heritage all along, in every sense, from his legacy and his talents, to how he has built a life that celebrates and uses art to help others. You can still watch this and many other brilliant Cardiff talks here.

Barry John's card representing the theme of Freedom. Freedom is Art.
Freedom: Theme for the first Cardiff event.

In hindsight, of course, Barry’s talk is now part of my path, this chapter and community has become part of mine and many others paths. I don’t think for a second that I would be helping to run John&Jane now if it wasn’t for the experience of learning from others at CreativeMornings/Cardiff, from watching how connections started, collaborations grew and interests were sparked. Looking back, I loved watching people’s paths cross, seeing how they might possibly, very slightly readjust their direction towards a more creative and fulfilling life. Realising their talents and possibly leaving feeling emboldened enough to share them, or enjoy the perspective that comes from sharing in somebody else’s experience of this chaotic world and the challenge of bringing our creative selves to our work and lives everyday. There’s so much talent in and around Cardiff, we can’t wait to see what creativity, experiences and potential connections Harri and Lowri have in store for us all. 

Keep an eye on all things CM Cardiff over on their Instagram. In the meantime you can grab yourself a ticket to hear from the whirlwind that is Running Punk Jimmy Watkins at bigmoose coffee co when they go up on Monday. Hope to see you there!

Attendees from Nick Hand's talk at The Printhaus.
The lovely bunch of attendees from Nick Hand's talk at The Printhaus.
The lovely bunch of attendees from Sarah Burley's talk at bigmoose coffee co.
Sarah's talk at bigmoose coffee co.
Attendees from David Evans's talk at The Little Man Coffee Co.
David Evans's talk at The Little Man Coffee Co.
The lovely bunch of attendees from Betina Skovbro's talk at Brød.
Betina Skovbro's talk at Brød.
Attendees from Meltem Arikan's talk at KIN+ILK.
Meltem Arikan's talk at KIN+ILK.

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