Rhondda Cynon Taf Cabinet has received an update on the work currently being undertaken in preparation for the county to host the National Eisteddfod in 2024, with focus being placed on community engagement.
A report to the Cabinet meeting on Monday, December 13, has outlined the approach being adopted and the activities being planned within local communities to ensure the Eisteddfod is successful – not only before and during the festival, but also to ensure a significant positive legacy.
The Council appointed a project officer in 2019, to work closely with National Eisteddfod Officers in promoting the festival and engaging with communities. National Eisteddfod Officers have been successful in applying for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a project that will pilot a community engagement strategy in RCT. The strategy will focus upon the themes of culture, language and heritage to bring people together via the Eisteddfod – while showcasing the unique history of Rhondda Cynon Taf. The project, which includes the appointment of a Community Development Officer, will develop a series of community events and activities to engage local people.
Phase 1 of the project will target young people aged 16-25, making the Welsh language and the Eisteddfod relevant outside of the classroom, while older people will also be engaged. Five events celebrating our heritage, language and culture will be held during the first half of 2022.
Phase 2 will see the delivery of five more events later in the year, feeding into the Eisteddfod’s new national Community Strategy.
Further activity to date has included the establishment of a community forum, with its inaugural meeting held on November 3, 2021.
Presentations by the National Eisteddfod’s Chief Executive Officer and staff to the Council’s Welsh Language Steering Group and the Strategic Arts and Culture Committee have also been well-received. There was a clear commitment by those involved to work with a wide range of officers, Elected Members, and organisations to ensure engagement with different communities and groups.
Partnership working between the Council’s Eisteddfod Officer and National Eisteddfod Officers to date has included researching and sharing information on community groups, and working with the Youth Engagement and Participation Service (YEPS) on how best to engage young people.
The Officers have also organised meetings with Council services over a wide range of considerations (including an Infrastructure Group, which has its first meeting in December 2021), linking with community members who are keen to promote the Eisteddfod, and contacting Officers in other Local Authorities (such as Sir Fynwy) to learn from their experience of hosting the festival.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said: “Cabinet received an important progress update on Monday in relation to the current work going on behind the scenes, as we make the best preparations for hosting the 2024 National Eisteddfod here in Rhondda Cynon Taf – as we aim to reach as many people as possible before, during and after the festival.
“One of the key elements of our approach is community engagement, and while progress has been disrupted in engaging directly with communities due to social distancing restrictions, key preparatory work and discussions have continued. If restrictions continue to allow, five community events celebrating Rhondda Cynon Taf’s heritage will be held by April 2022, forming the first phase of the National Eisteddfod’s National Lottery Heritage Fund project.
“The Cabinet report also discussed the aim to create a lasting legacy in Rhondda Cynon Taf, focusing on several key themes. It aims to create a community legacy by encouraging more Welsh and bilingual events locally, a cultural legacy by promoting the Rhondda Cynon Taf’s story on a national platform, and a linguistic legacy with more people choosing to learn Welsh. There is also an inclusivity legacy to strive for, with people of all backgrounds – and whether they speak Welsh or not – feeling more confident about the Welsh language and culture, which belongs to everyone.
“I’m immensely proud that we are hosting the National Eisteddfod in 2024, bringing the celebration of culture and the Welsh language to the County Borough for everyone to enjoy. Cabinet will receive several progress updates in the coming months over a range of subjects in relation to hosting the Eisteddfod, and I’m looking forward to seeing further progress made.”
National Eisteddfod Chief Executive, Betsan Moses, added, “We’re delighted to be working in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, and are very much enjoying getting to know local people and finding out the type of events they want to see happening in the community in the run-up to the National Eisteddfod.
“The pandemic has forced us to postpone the festival twice, but the great news is that we’re back, and looking forward to working with everyone to create a memorable and amazing Eisteddfod in Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2024.”