National Eisteddfod ‘too elitist’ and needs to modernise says columnist
The National Eisteddfod is “too elitist” and needs to modernise in order to reach a wider audience, according to a columnist.
Writing in Golwg magazine, Huw Onllwyn said that despite visiting every Eisteddfod since the 90s he had not missed the Welsh language festival which had been postponed twice as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that the festival had become “stuck in the past” and needed to “think about what is really of interest to the modern Welsh speaker”.
“Too much time and money is spent on maintaining the old way of doing things rather than exploring more exciting possibilities,” he said.
“Even the main events (such as the Chairing of the Bard) are not relevant to 98% of Welsh speakers. How many of us are really interested in cynghanedd – and read the winning poem?” he asks, referring to a system of alliteration and internal rhyme used in some Welsh poetry.
“It’s too elitist. The only excitement is the part of the ceremony where they announce the name of the winner – and seeing if you recognise the person who stands up.
“There should be a much smaller pavillion for the competitions, and more of a focus on creating an event that is a celebration of our culture.”
Instead, he suggests spending more on gigs and other events on the Eisteddfod field, comparing the staging and lighting to a “school disco” or “illegal rave”.
“We should merge Maes B (the music gigs) with the rest of the Eisteddfod field with famous bands, new bands, jazz, country, comedy. Entertainment to be enjoyed!” he said.
“We also need to make better use of technology. We should do away with queuing in the mud for food or drink. You should be able to book using an App – and have staff bring the order to your table. This has worked successfully at Tafwyl.
“We need to change the focus of the festival from the old uninteresting traditions – and focus on celebrating and enjoying an exciting and colourful festival through the medium of Welsh.”
The next National Eisteddfod is planned to take planned in Tregaron, Ceredigion in August 2022. This year a virtual Eisteddfod, Amgen, was held, and the recorded events can be viewed online here.
The current Archdruid, Myrddin ap Dafydd, praised the Amgen Eisteddfod, saying that they had learnt the lessons of last year and extended the coverage from the internet to traditional media such as TV and radio.
“There is work to be done now to see what is worth keeping and developing,” he told Golwg.
“This has always been the spirit of our culture, we survive. We face difficulties and overcome them. In that spirit, we should be very happy with what happened this week.”