Wales and the Eurovision Song Contest – new petition launched
Wales, the land of song – a European country with one of its oldest spoken languages. And yet we are voiceless when it comes to participating in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Ahead of the 2024 event, and in what has become an annual tradition of its own, Welsh Eurovision fans are repeating calls for Wales to be represented.
To play our part in giving these fans a voice – and to amplify that voice to both the BBC and the Welsh Government – Nation.Cymru has launched a new petition calling for Wales to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Many Welsh artists have represented the United Kingdom in the past including Mary Hopkin in 1970, Emma in 1989, Jessica Garlick in 2002, Bonnie Tyler in 2013 and, more recently, Lucie Jones in 2017.
There was also Joe Woolford, from Rhuthun, who with Jake Shakeshaft from Stoke-on-Trent, competed in Stockholm in 2016 with the song “You’re Not Alone.”
There has, however, only been one Welsh Eurovision winner – Nicky Stevens, as a member of Brotherhood of Man, in 1976.
And, importantly, there has not been a single Welsh language entry despite Welsh being an official language of Wales.
Wales competed in Junior Eurovision in 2018 and 2019 but has always been represented by the United Kingdom at the main event.
Phil Jackson, Associate Head of Media at Edge Hill University and expert on all things Eurovision, told Nation.Cymru that it would be difficult to see a Welsh entry while the BBC remained the main public service broadcaster in Wales.
“Wales is currently not eligible to be a competitive country as we compete as the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Devolved government does not mean separate participation, as the Eurovision Song Contest is populated by the main member public service broadcaster of each country.
“For the UK it’s the BBC, although S4C are members of the European Broadcasting Union.”
In 2021, Plaid Cymru pledged in their manifesto that they would prepare for Wales to enter the Eurovision Song Contest as a nation in our own right if they were to win power.
As part of their pledges for Culture, Media and Sport in Wales, Plaid Cymru have said that they will “prepare a bid” for Wales to enter Eurovision as an independent nation.
Cân i Gymru
In the 1960s, it was proposed for the first time that Wales should enter the Eurovision Song Contest as an independent nation. As a result of this, the music festival Cân i Gymru was launched – which is still held annually in March. The festival would have acted as a national selection for Wales.
For the first time ever, Cân i Gymru is set to be held at the Swansea Arena on 1 March (St David’s Day) this year, with tickets and more information available here.
The bid to enter Eurovision as an independent nation was unsuccessful but Wales has still taken part in several other EBU events, including Jeux Sans Frontières, Eurovision Choir and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
Lynn Kenway of Eurovision Times concurred that while the BBC was in charge, Wales would not be represented.
“Although we’ve seen Wales compete in the Junior Eurovision in 2018 and 2019, I don’t see how they can possibly compete in the adult version whilst the BBC is still officially the UK’s broadcaster for Eurovision,” she said.
“If the BBC ever gave up being the broadcaster, then we may see the possibility of different broadcasters picking it up – as United Kingdom Independent Broadcasting did for Junior Eurovision.
“Then we could see nations entering rather than a United Kingdom entry, but whilst the publicly-funded BBC runs the show, they will want to represent the whole of the United Kingdom.”
Dr. Paul Jordan, expert on the Eurovision Song Contest, said that one possible solution was for the nations of the UK to take turns in putting up an act.
“It may technically be possible to devolve the entry each year but I think it would probably still end up being a UK entry,” he said.
In 2021, a petition was created calling for an independent Welsh entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The petition came about after the UK scored ‘nul points’ for only the second time in its history.
At the same event, the UK’s vote announcer Amanda Holden was also criticised after she made a joke of not understanding the difference between French and Dutch.
“Bonsoir. Goedenavond,” she said. “That is good evening in French and Dutch although I’ve got absolutely no idea which is which.”
Whilst that petition, obviously, didn’t get the desired outcome, it’s not dampened the enthusiasm and defiance of Welsh fans, so we at Nation.Cymru felt it would only be right to keep up the momentum and launch another with the blessing of its original creator.
The petition simply says: “Wales is known around the world as “The Land of Song”, and we have a rich culture of music and performance which is recognised and celebrated internationally,” his previous petition said.
“Wales should have the opportunity to be represented at Eurovision as a nation in its own right. Therefore, we call on the Welsh Government to work with S4C and other relevant bodies to prepare a bid for Wales to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Wales under the spotlight
Eurovision super fan, Luke Prisk from Brynmawr said: “Eurovision fan or not, an opportunity to shine on a European, indeed worldwide stage should be a given, not something we need to fight for.
“Why shouldn’t we be able to celebrate our rich culture and talent in the same way other countries do?
“I’m super excited about this year’s event, but in the back of my mind I can’t overlook the fact that my flag isn’t officially represented and was once even banned!
“Just imagine how many more people would get to hear about us, or visit us, if only we had the same time under the spotlight that other countries have.”
You can find Nation.Cymru’s Eurovision petition here – deadline 23 March 2024.
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