Wrexham Council in the dark about National Eisteddfod plans for 2025
Wrexham County Borough Council has confirmed it has had no correspondence from the National Eisteddfod to verify that the city will host the 2025 event despite the fact the council has already agreed to contribute £300,000 to the festival.
Considered the largest musical and poetry festival in Europe, the National Eisteddfod is an annual event held through the medium of Welsh in different locations each year.
It last visited Wrexham in 2011 and local resident Arfon Jones was one of the many volunteers who worked to raise funds and get the show on the road.
He told Nation.Cymru that he had heard “a rumour” about six months ago that the National Eisteddfod was returning to Wrexham in 2025 and got in touch with the festival to ask for details.
Arfon Jones said: “I had a reply eventually from the Eisteddfod to say negotiations are continuing with Wrexham. But when you consider that Wrexham, ten months ago, agreed to fund the festival to the tune of £300,000 I would suggest that the plans need to be further ahead than just negotiations.
“It’s long overdue for the Eisteddfod to make a full statement to let everyone know where the Eisteddfod will be held (in 2025).”
Freedom of Information
Mr Jones then approached Wrexham County Borough Council with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request which it answered last week saying that it has had no correspondence from the National Eisteddfod confirming that the city will host the festival in 2025.
Mr Jones said: “We have two years to organise an Eisteddfod that is going to cost between £5.5 million and £6 million – it’s not a long time and that causes me concern. How ready will we be?
“Will we all be expected to contribute a lot of our time at the very last minute? I’d like a statement from the Eisteddfod to say what their plans are for 2025 and what their expectations of local people is.
“When I got the FOI from Wrexham there was a link to an Executive Board report going back to 12 July 2022 when they decided that Wrexham Council would be giving the Eisteddfod a local contribution of £300,000 to host it in Wrexham in 2025. Obviously, Wrexham Council is expecting the Eisteddfod to be held in the county in 2025.”
Mr Jones thinks the Wrexham National Eisteddfod will be a street event, similar to the one held in Cardiff Bay in 2018.
He said: “Because obviously it takes a long time to negotiate with land owners etc as we found out back in 2011. A street Eisteddfod will take a lot less time to organise than one on a field where you have to find appropriate land and a supportive landowner and then negotiating a price.”
A National Eisteddfod spokesperson said: “The National Eisteddfod has been in long-term discussions with Wrexham Borough Council to bring the festival back to the area. Both organisations are in regular contact and are confident there will be an announcement soon.”
The Llŷn ac Eifionydd National Eisteddfod 2023 which starts in 66 days has had its own problems. Archdruid Myrddin ap Dafydd who presides over the most important ceremonies, recently voiced his regret that sudden last-minute changes by the National Eisteddfod management in March had upset some locals as well as regular competitors.
Mr ap Dafydd was not the first big name in Eisteddfod circles to speak out and was referring to the highly criticised move by paid Eisteddfod officials to restrict some of the most popular competitions, including choirs, to no more than three in the semi-final round.
This resulted in 37 choirs sending a letter to the National Eisteddfod saying they had been disrespected and wanted to revert to the tried and trusted way where every choir competed on the main stage in the pavilion.
Long standing supporters of the festival took to the airwaves to condemn the move and the lack of consultation. A meeting between the National Eisteddfod Management Board and choral representatives resulted in a sharp U-turn earlier this month.
Arfon Jones, who is looking forward to spending a week in this year’s Eisteddfod at the beginning of August, said he can “well understand the frustration” some people may have of the perceived lack of communication and consultation between Eisteddfod management and some of its long-standing supporters.
He said: “The (2023) Eisteddfod is in two months and if they’re feeling frustrated at the lack of communication then I really think we (in Wrexham) have a cause for concern.”
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