Recently I met Jay Shah, the owner of a Coffee and Tea House on Carrington Street called Cappuchaino. She’s hoping the space will be used for roundtable discussions, spoken word performances, music events, festivals and other cultural activities that will draw in the local community. Cappuchaino has a diverse menu that caters for vegetarians, vegan, gluton free and halal. Where possible everything is sourced locally so there’s no need to worry about whether your sarnie was shipped in from Derby.
She’s an ambitious woman and a welcome (returning) face to Nottingham after spending eight years or so in Jack Straw’s constituency of Blackburn. Blackburn has received much negative publicity about its racial divide, famously captured by an estate agent on BBC’s Panorama who declared in 28 years of working in Blackburn he’d never sold a house in an Asian area to a white person. Although Nottingham has had its fair share of problems in the past it’s generally very tolerant and well integrated. Traditionally a factory city, Nottnum has never been dominated by one industry which has meant a diverse range of employment and with it a more varied outlook, albeit one that is united in its contempt for authority. This is fertile ground for her ambitions.
Nottingham has an incredible arts scene. We’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to galleries, gigs and literature events. There’s a thriving DIY culture as well that sees a new event or business pop up on a weekly basis. So Cappuchaino has come to the right city. But with all of this creativity being shoehorned into the Creative Quarter, will people venture to a location on the periphery of the city?
Being close to the train station could be an advantage in picking up footfall, especially as our tourism figures are strong. According to figures produced by STEAM 2010 tourism to the city is valued at £466.4million and 1.38 billion countywide. Of this, 27.5% is spent on food and drink. Hopkinson’s is near by – easily my favourite location in Nottingham – so there is the potential to tap into this bohemian market that sounds very much like her target audience.
So what’s Cappuchaino like as a venue? It’s set over two floors and is a great performance space as all of the drinks are made upstairs (so you don’t get put-off mid-flow by a steaming coffee machine). They’ve got TV screens, meaning you can experiment with visuals or do a joint reading via Skype. At present, though, it looks too much like a chain to capture the vibe of a Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots. But this isn’t an issue as creating the right ambiance is easy: Switch off the lights, put candles on the tables, make sure none of your furniture matches, and regularly rotate artwork on the wall. They have wisely invested in a movable stage as well meaning the room can be tailored for your specific needs.
Jay is hoping to host her first Mushaira (urdu poetry) event for Nottingham City residents before the end of this year and is keen to speak to potential partners and planners who can offer support or advice. She is also keen to offer something additional to live events, so there’s possibilities for the pampering industries: henna tattooists, manicurists, masseurs, etc as well as local businesses with something relevant to flog. Bottom line: get in touch and make suggestions.
The recession has shattered the cultural landscape and reduced large funding for organisations. Very much like a jigsaw puzzle, it’s now a case of finding matching parts and recreating the image. Taking advantage of free rental space could be a useful platform for a new event without a budget. Drawing creative and complementary businesses into the equation offers the potential of shared revenue as well as a more dynamic event than your usual ‘gig’. So if you’re interested, Nottingham. Swing by and say hello to Cappuchaino and let us know how you got on.
Cappuchaino Coffee and Tea House 44 Carrington Street Nottingham NG17FG www.cappuchaino.com .