The Abacus was an artist-led community venue that wanted to provide creatives with a platform to share their ideas with the public and other like-minded groups and individuals.
There was nothing like this in Cardiff city centre before The Abacus but there was a clear desire and need for it with highly popular pop-up events and a bustling art scene.
The venue included two gallery rooms, ten artist studios, two music studios, meeting areas, performance and workshop spaces.
Previously Cardiff Bus Ticket office, it was spotted by local Artists the Modern Alchemists who approached us with ambitious plans to turn it into a gallery. The Council kindly donated the premises rent free and collaboratively ProMo-Cymru, the Modern Alchemists and many more Cardiff creatives developed it into what it became.
It responded to the needs of the community and grew in line with the people that used and inhabited it. It was ran entirely through the support and input of volunteers, and self-funded through holding events, workshops and exhibitions. It was an example of pure collaboration.
The Abacus fast became one of Cardiff’s most popular creative hubs. It was open five days a week, had fortnightly exhibitions, held music nights, festivals, a variety of classes from hula hoop to sustainable living workshops, had a music studio and band rehearsal room and was continually growing.
The project did not receive any funding, and was self sustained through the effort from volunteers and self generated income.
The Abacus eventually had to close its doors as the building was returned to the council for demolishing to make way for the new Cardiff bus station.
“I have been involved in Cardiff’s art scene for nearly 20 years, and the city has been crying out for a space like this. Others have tried, and failed, mainly because they did not have The Abacus’s unique chemistry. It’s as much a state of mind as an art space, with no regime or manifesto, establishment or clique.”
Jon Pountney, Local Cardiff Photographer