‘Toxic’ abuse of artists caught up in Eisteddfod language debate condemned
Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet’s has issued a statement condemning racist comments aimed at Welsh artists caught up in the heated debate about the Welsh language rule at the National Eisteddfod.
Earlier this month rapper Sage Todz, who has been credited with spreading the use of the Welsh language and opening it up to new audiences, posted a Tweet in which he announced he would not be performing at the Eisteddfod’s music festival Maes B or the Eisteddfod itself this year due to the Welsh language policy.
The National Eisteddfod issued a response in which they said they had extensive discussions with the Sage Todz, offering him several opportunities to perform in Welsh at this year’s Eisteddfod, to be held in Boduan in August.
A spokesperson said: “Singing bilingually and in English are integral to Sage Todz’s principles, just as our language rule is integral to us as a festival and organisation. He was offered several opportunities to perform in Welsh at this year’s Eisteddfod, including taking a leading role in a major event to close the festival which was a commission to create new songs in Welsh.
“We discussed our language rule at length with Sage Todz, and we respect the fact that he is a bilingual artist, and that his decision is to adhere to his principles and continue to create bilingual and English music.”
Subsequently Eädyth and Izzy Rabey announced they do not intend to perform at the National Eisteddfod until the main language policy is changed.
In a statement they said that “bilingualism is at the core of how we express our Welsh identity and celebrate it”.
The statement from Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet said: “We are very proud to welcome the National Eisteddfod to the county and look forward to celebrating everything that makes Wales so wonderful. The Eisteddfod is a Welsh language cultural event that attracts a huge audience from Wales and beyond.
“Recently there has been a heated discussion across social media platforms following reports in the press regarding ‘the Welsh Language Rule’, an Eisteddfod governing rule that means all performances at the maes must be through the medium of Welsh.
“We are in favour of this rule as a solid foundation for what makes the Eisteddfod unique as the only monolingual Welsh language festival we have here in Wales.
“Despite this, we are disappointed and saddened to see the tone of recent discussions, which have become increasingly toxic following comments on the subject by a number of musicians.
“Artists such as Sage Todz, Eädyth, Izzy Rabey and Dionne Bennett are highly respected and have a large following among many young people in Wales. They take the Welsh language and Welshness to new audiences and are fantastic ambassadors.
“It is our understanding that some of these artists have received racist messages and comments following the media reports and we strongly condemn such attitudes. There is no place for racism in our society and we firmly reject any prejudice or hatred expressed towards minority or protected groups.
“Whilst we do not wish to see the Welsh Rule compromised, we support respectful discussions and new ideas from a range of different people, so that the Eisteddfod can continue to be a contemporary and welcoming festival with a wide appeal.
“Moreover, we call for respect towards new voices who are keen to contribute to conversations about the Eisteddfod and we regret that a discussion that could be fruitful has become negative and hurtful.”
The statement concludes: “We extend a welcome to the people of Wales and beyond from all areas and backgrounds to Gwynedd and to Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llŷn & Eifionydd and we look forward to a fantastic week of celebrating everything that makes our culture and language so special.”
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