SECRET SPACES: MATT WRIGHT
As co-founder of Cardiff’s “immersive arts space” CULTVR Lab, Matt Wright aims to help emerging artists, filmmakers and musicians create unique audiovisual experiences. He chats to Sam Pryce.
How did the idea for CULTVR Lab come about?
Janire [Nájera] and I [the founders of CULTVR Lab] have shared a passion for the unique creative possibilities that immersive domes provide but were held back due to the lack of accessible infrastructure available. We’ve been producing 360º films and touring them in our domes for the last 10 years, promoting Wales internationally, with the intention of creating a space where live performance could be also presented within the dome. We wanted to be able to do this in-house and extend this opportunity to fellow local creatives.
What kind of events and functions does the space offer?
We decided to create a flexible immersive venue to host an array of artists from different disciplines: dance, theatre, live music, film, visual arts and more. We’ve hosted live performances, symposiums, residencies, training sessions and multimedia exhibitions. It has three different dome spaces, a film and photo studio, co-working facilities and a gallery space.
Is there anything coming up at CULTVR Lab that we should be particularly looking forward to?
We’re working with local artists to create new experiences, such as Black Mantis in collaboration with electronic musician Deri Roberts, which will premiere on Fri 29 May. In January, we had DJ Yoda performing a Live Lab Dome Session and we’re working on having him back because it was incredible! We’re also planning to bring digital artists from Canada and Brazil, so keep an eye on the website as we can say no more!
In what ways can emerging artists become involved with CULTVR Lab?
We’re already creating a variety of opportunities for artists to leverage the CULTVR Lab. We’re working hard to develop a programme of residencies to create opportunities for all in the short and long term. If you have an idea that could leverage the space, just drop us a line or speak to us at one of our events.
Live music venues in the UK have declined by 35% over the last decade. How do you hope to combat these statistics?
As an independent venue, we fully rely on our audience to survive – and, as such, we hope to offer something not just unique to Wales but the world. One key element to this is flexibility and adaptability. We’re not just a music venue, as we also contain a large exhibition space, Wales’ largest screen, and a whole host of production facilities. When we do music events, you’ll be getting a lot more of an experience than you would at a more traditional venue, as we collaborate closely with each band or artist to augment their sound with visual experiences.
If you could recommend one place in Wales to a first-time visitor that’s off the beaten track, where would it be and why?
Trefil Quarry, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. I have been returning to this stunning spot for several years; its combination of post-industrial loss and stunning vistas sums up Wales beautifully. I’ve been there in snow, gale force wind and on beautiful sunny days. It never fails to impress.
CULTVR Lab, 327 Penarth Road, Cardiff. Info: www.cultvr.cymru