Welsh festivals unite to create major online event

Cate le Bon. Photo by bobtomli, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Four major Welsh arts festivals have joined forces to create a new online event next month.

Gŵyl, a collaboration between Festival of VoiceFOCUS WalesOther Voices Cardigan and Aberystwyth Comedy Festival, will be broadcast online on the BBC’s website across the weekend of 6-7 March and will feature music and comedy performances, filmed or recorded over recent months in Wales and internationally within Coronavirus guidelines.

The organisers promise an “extraordinary digital gathering for these exceptional times” that “shines a light of determination and resilience from the creative scene in Wales.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre, said Gŵyl “brings together the very best of all four festivals”.

“We hope it brings a bit of much-needed joy to audiences to blow away the cobwebs.”

Line-up

The line-up includes contributions from Cate Le Bon in collaboration with Gruff Rhys, the award-winning Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Tim Burgess’ Listening Party, and Catrin Finch; plus BERWYN (BBC Music Sound of 2021), Carys Eleri (Adelaide Fringe Festival winner), Arlo Parks and Dani Rain, the drumming force behind Neck Deep.

Other highlights confirmed include Charlotte Adigéry, post-punk Welsh Music Prize winners Adwaith, Irish poet and art rock pioneer Sinead O’Brien and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jordan Brookes; Welsh Language Album of the Year winner Ani Glass, Dublin four-piece Sprints, Cardiff-based Guinean griot musician N’Famady Kouyate and sketch group Tarot. Dance company Jukebox Collective have also curated performances from reggae artist Aleighcia, RnB/soul artist Faith, singer and rapper Reuel, spoken word artist Jaffrin Khan and more.

Welsh Language Album of the Year winner Ani Glass. Photo by Ani Saunders

There’s an exclusive, one-off performance by Brett Anderson, Charles Hazlewood and Paraorchestra, featuring special guests Nadine Shah, Adrian Utley & Seb Rochford, plus special episodes of the comedy podcasts Welcome to Spooktown and I Wish I Was an Only Child, featuring guest appearances from some famous faces.

The festival will include content on other platforms, too; FOCUS Wales have programmed a special screening of Eternal Beauty, a new feature film made in Wales and starring David Thewlis and Sally Hawkins, plus a bespoke selection of the best new music from across Canada and Québec, all to be streamed on the Welsh cultural app AM Cymru, 5-10 March 2021. S4C will broadcast exclusive highlights from Other Voices Cardigan at a later date.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support this pan-Wales partnership, which will bring the best of these wonderful festivals to a wide audience.

“Throughout this pandemic, the innovative response in sharing, celebrating and bringing people together from the events and creative industries has been extremely successful – and has provided hope and entertainment during these difficult times.”

The full line up and schedule will be confirmed, and the festival itself will be broadcast across the weekend, on the BBC’s website at www.bbc.co.uk/gwyl2021. Some content will also be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. Content from the festival will be available to view again for seven days on the BBC platform.

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