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Welsh eisteddfod must change, warns Alun Ffred Jones AM

25 November 11 11:41
mages pink pavilion

Wales' annual cultural festival - the National Eisteddfod - needs to look at how it is run in the future, an assembly member has said.

Plaid Cymru AM and ex-heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones suggests it may have to move away from some traditions if it is to be profitable.

BBC Wales has learned August's event in Wrexham made a loss for the second year running.

The figure is thought to be tens of thousands of pounds.

Organisers said concert income, stands and sponsorship in hard times had contributed to the loss to the annual festival which moves around the country and celebrates Welsh music and culture.

Last year's eisteddfod in Blaenau Gwent recorded a deficit of £47,000 after the previous three made a profit.

'Endemic problems'

Mr Jones, who represents the Arfon constituency, said changes will have to be made if losses are continually made.

"I think for the organisers they will have to look closely at what can be safeguarded and how to approach it in the future, " he said.

"They've tried to extend the appeal of the eisteddfod to non-Welsh speakers.

"That has been a relative success but obviously there are endemic problems I suppose because you have this field that has to be resurrected every year and costs are going up.

"Income over the next four, five, perhaps more years is going to be under pressure as individuals look carefully at how they spend their money and sponsors will also be wary.

Mr Jones said the nature of the eisteddfod must be considered.

"I think the eisteddfod will remain as it stands for the next few years... but I think in the longer term I think you have to look carefully at the nature of the beast.

'Tightened its belt'

"The traditionalists cannot hold out if it makes a loss every year."

The festival location alternates between north and south Wales and the highlights of the event are the chairing and crowning ceremonies for the best poets.

The National Eisteddfod Council will meet in Aberystwyth on Saturday where this year's loss will be discussed.

In July, the eisteddfod's chief executive Elfed Roberts warned jobs could be at risk if it was forced to make more financial savings.

Mr Roberts said it had "tightened its belt as much as it can" during years of cost cutting.

The Welsh Government has said it is committed to the festival.

Money will come directly from the Welsh government when the Welsh Language Board is abolished next spring.

On Twitter on Thursday, the National Eisteddfod said the 2011 event had made a loss due to "concert income, stands and sponsorship in harsh times... and not artists' costs".

In a statement the Welsh government said: "During 2011-12 the National Eisteddfod received £493,000 from the Welsh government through the Welsh Language Board.

"The Welsh government also provided £25,000 towards a scheme that allowed the National Eisteddfod to offer 10,000 tickets at the special two-for-one price during the first weekend of the event, 30-31 July."

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