Merthyr Rising on the up following concerns about the iconic festival’s future
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
The famous Merthyr Rising Festival has received support to ensure it goes ahead this year including £25,000 through a local community grant fund after concerns were raised about the festival’s future.
It’s full steam ahead for this year’s festival with support provided to the organisers who had previously appealed for help having raised concerns about the costs of moving the location of the event.
Merthyr Tydfil council said it helped steer them towards a local grant fund and is introducing new road safety measures on top of the support announced last week by Welsh Government.
After the appeal from the organisers, officers approached the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund Large Grants Scheme, which awarded the event £25,000.
The Ffos-y-fran Community Grants Scheme was set up by the council along with Merthyr (South Wales) Limited, which donates £1 for every ton of coal sold from the Ffos-y-fran land reclamation scheme.
More than £8m has been awarded to a wide range of groups and causes since the site opened in 2007.
Organisers of the festival had written to councillors expressing their concern over the future of the festival in years to come because of the financial issues caused by moving its location and at one point they were concerned that even if it wasn’t cancelled it would have to be the last one this year.
But it is now going ahead and organisers say that it will be “better than ever, with our best line up yet.”
The event, which will take place this weekend (June 10-12), was switched from the original venues of Penderyn Square and Redhouse Cymru to Cyfarthfa Park on the advice of the Merthyr Tydfil Event Safety Advisory Group (ESAG).
The council said that when initial discussions took place last December, the position regarding Covid-19 was still uncertain and ESAG felt that Cyfarthfa Park, being a larger venue, would allow greater flexibility to introduce any distancing measures that may be needed.
But due to ecology issues involving wildlife mitigation at the park, the festival moved back to the original site rather than risk being cancelled.
Council leader Councillor Geraint Thomas said: “There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding this year’s festival.”
He said it was moved initially to Cyfarthfa Park by ESAG due to Covid-19 concerns and traffic management issues.
He said: “However, ecological surveys revealed the presence of bats – which are protected – so that meant a switch back.
“Understandably, this caused the organisers a lot of headaches and affected their finances.
“The council has now totally overhauled the traffic management system and will have the same one in place that operated successfully for the lighting of the Platinum Jubilee beacon last week.
“We wanted to ensure the retention of this hugely popular and important cultural event in the county borough, and we’re pleased that Ffos-y-fran was able to come to the rescue.”
Merthyr Rising organiser Lyn Williams said: “There have been multiple problems with this year’s Merthyr Rising, and we were concerned that even if it hadn’t been cancelled, it might have to be the final one.
“As it is, the festival will now go ahead this year and will be better than ever, with our best line up yet promising another unforgettable weekend of music, culture and debate.
“The council have found a way to support us and for that, we’re very grateful.
“This could be a watershed moment where we can start to work more closely together and build a relationship going forward for the benefit of the event and the county borough.
“Welsh Government sees the potential for Merthyr Rising to become a signature event for Wales and the region and are due to support us financially with long term investment if this year is a success.”
This year’s festival will feature performances including a DJ set from Basement Jaxx, Stiff Little Fingers and Ocean Colour Scene among many others.
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The only roosting bats in this article sit in the town council chambers.