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Cardiff skate park gets green light for launch

A new social enterprise is set to open Cardiff’s first indoor skate park and art space this Spring having attracted start-up investment from the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund.

The project, which is being launched by not-for-profit enterprise, Skate Cardiff under the trading name Spit and Sawdust, will provide an indoor skate park alongside a skate shop, community café and art programme.

Spit and Sawdust has received a £20,000 loan from the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund and has also attracted support from the Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise Programme and Sport Wales, alongside a number of private investments.

At least six new jobs will be created as a result of the investment and significant contracts have also been awarded to local builders and suppliers.

Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) agreed the loan - the Fund’s first to a social enterprise. 

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, welcomed the announcement.  She said: ‘I am delighted to see the Fund is helping to support such an innovative project that has the potential to bring wide ranging benefits to the local community and create an asset that can make a real difference to local people.  I wish it every success in the future.’

£1 million of the £6 million Wales Micro-business Loan Fund is earmarked for micro loans to social enterprises and this part of the Fund is managed by WCVA.

The park, which is located on Rhymney River Bridge Road in Cardiff, is aiming to host over 13,000 people in its first year of trading and will offer lessons and host competitions.

Skate parks are popular in most major UK cities, as well as smaller Welsh towns and cities like Swansea, Newport and Queensferry in North Wales.

Spit and Sawdust Director, Nia Metcalfe, said: ‘We are delighted to have received finance from the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund. We are not the sort of organisation that banks will finance so without this significant backing it would not have been possible.

‘It has taken over 18 months to plan this project and secure the investment needed to open. We have consulted with a range of professionals, amateur sportspeople, other skate parks and promoters and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

‘Skateboarding, scooter and BMX riding have grown in popularity in the last ten years and we know there is significant interest in these sports in Cardiff.’

The design of the park has been inspired by international plaza-style layouts incorporating banks, blocks and hips as well as a mini-ramp and transition section. Spit and Sawdust hopes that the park’s design will attract demonstrations from UK and international touring teams.

‘We’re keen to emphasise that Spit and Sawdust is not just a skate park. We are aiming to create a multi-aspect community space where everyone is welcome. There will be plenty to do even if you’re not using the park.

‘The café menu will feature home cooked food and throughout the space we will be supporting a programme of events, performances, screenings, exhibitions and residencies to give creative art practitioners a platform to experiment and present work,’ Ms Metcalfe continued.

WCVA Micro-business Loan Fund Manager, Matthew Brown, added: ‘It’s important that social enterprises with sound business proposals are able to access this type of finance as it’s difficult for them to get it from banks.

‘This is not only a very exciting sporting and social venture for Cardiff, but one that will generate an economic impact through the creation of new jobs and contracts for local suppliers.’

Nicola Edwards, Micro-business Loan Fund Manager at Finance Wales welcomed the announcement of the Fund’s first loan to a social enterprise: ’Social enterprises make an important contribution to both their communities and the Welsh economy and the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund is an important source of finance for them. 

‘Loans from the Fund can help to get projects off the ground as well as to back successful social enterprises as they grow.  Spit and Sawdust is the Fund’s first investment and we wish them well with the launch of what promises to be an exciting new venue with significant scope for future development.” 

Nia Metcalfe is pleased with the high levels of interest Spit and Sawdust is already generating.

‘As a social enterprise, we want to make a difference to the community by supporting youth and community projects and developing partnerships with other organisations.

‘All of our surplus profits and fundraising will be re-invested and will fund creative and socially beneficial programmes. We have already been speaking to people who we hope to work with in the coming year,’ she said.