Wales politics

Wales' National Eisteddfod issues job cuts warning

maes pink pavillion
Image caption The 2011 Eisteddfod is being held in Wrexham

Wales' annual cultural festival the National Eisteddfod is warning jobs could be at risk if it is forced to make more financial savings.

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

Further financial constraints could force it to cut staff or slash activities, he said.

The Welsh Government said it was committed to the festival but that it must consider its priorities.

Speaking ahead of this year's eisteddfod's opening concert in Wrexham on Friday, Mr Roberts told BBC Radio Cymru: "Since 2004 we've succeeded in tightening our belt year on year - I don't know how much further we can go.

"I think we've reached a situation that if we're forced to cut back further then we have only two options: ether cutting back on staff - and I think we're pretty close to the bone on that - or cut back on the eisteddfod's events and activities..."

He said fewer activities on offer at the Eisteddfod would mean fewer visitors.

Mr Roberts said the eisteddfod has faced many financial pressures this year and predicted the squeeze would "begin to severely bite in 2012 and 2013".

Slight cut

Eisteddfod organisers say they have seen a slight cut this year in funding from local councils. They say there has been no increase in the grant from the Welsh Government through the Welsh Language Board.

Local fundraising and sponsorship revenue has fallen short of targets and the economic climate has impacted on ticket sales, according to Mr Roberts

"The biggest change we've seen is in the way people purchase tickets," he said.

"In the past they'd buy tickets to three or four or five concerts in one go, but now they're only committing to one or two tickets.

"Considering everything I think that it's next year that it (the economic situation) will really begin to bite."

The Welsh Government said it is committed to maintaining its financial support to the eisteddfod, even though the way in which it is funded will change when the Welsh Language Board is abolished next Spring.

In future, funds will come directly from the Welsh Government and Leighton Andrews, the minister for the Welsh language, has indicated he is willing to discuss future funding options with the eisteddfod.

But he insisted the eisteddfod must consider its priorities at a time when many bodies are facing cut-backs.

He said: "We give about half a million pounds a year to the eisteddfod to support its activities and certainly don't foresee any decline... (but) I think clearly everybody understands that we are in a difficult financial position.

"We would certainly want to keep our support strong for the eisteddfod... but it's important for them to look at their budget and look at their activities and consider what their priorities are."

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