Eisteddfod Gudd and the future

August 10, 2021 by

It’s been two years without our annual pilgrimage to a different part of Wales for the Eisteddfod, our national festival, with its roots deep in the midst of time, but with a modern and exciting passion for the arts in Wales and beyond.

Last year, organisers experimented with a three month digital programme.  This time saw the festival’s small team work with broadcasters to create a week-long festival, encompassing all aspects of the ‘traditional Maes’ Eisteddfod.

Chief Executive, Betsan Moses, says, “We had a great response to last year’s project but this year had to be different.  Last year, we had a responsibility to help our artists, performers and supporters through the long months of the first lockdown.

“This year’s AmGen was all about showcasing our work and the performers we have in Wales; providing great opportunities for our artists to perform. It’s also been a chance to nurture new talents, and projects like CodiCân, our partnership with Tŷ Cerdd is an excellent example, as is Brwydr y Bandiau, which saw a Welsh language rap artist win this year’s award.

With no regular income stream since the 2019 festival in Conwy County, it’s been a struggle for the Eisteddfod like so many other cultural and artistic organisations here in Wales.  “It’s been a difficult two years,” says Betsan Moses. “Working so far in advance, we had to take the decision to postpone again this year in January.  So, while we were all bitterly disappointed, it also gave us a good few months to work on AmGen.

“Luckily, the restrictions loosened as the week approached, so we were able to host a live weekend event.  We’d been planning a livestream event for a few months, and it was great for the artists to perform in front of a live audience for the first time in sixteen months – albeit a small crowd.”

Eisteddfod Gudd was an eclectic mixture of live performances and beautifully curated music sessions filmed on location across Wales, with artists including Eden, Alffa, Georgia Ruth, Candelas, Catrin Finch, Lily Beau, Gareth Bonello and Blackelvis livestreamed in the biggest ever Welsh language virtual music festival.




Eadyth / Band Pres Llareggub


Seckou Keita



Competing is at the heart of the Eisteddfod.  It’s one of the festival’s USPs – something which sets it apart from all other festivals and events.  The closing date for the 2020 literary competitions had already passed when lockdown struck, so all entries remain carefully locked away until next year, ready to be sent to adjudicators, with winners to be announced at the Ceredigion Eisteddfod. This is only the second time in the festival’s long history for this to happen, the first being as the world went to war in 1914.

A scaled-back list of competitions was created, launched and competitors were invited to upload videos, with the best entrants invited to be filmed a few weeks ago, and broadcast on TV and radio last week.  Betsan Moses says, “Our competitors were just pleased to be able to perform again.  It’s been a long time, and it was touch and go whether we’d be able to have any group competitions due to restrictions, but things loosened enough just in time for some groups, although, understandably, others felt that getting together was too risky at the time.”

Many say that the Eisteddfod sets the Welsh language cultural and artistic agenda for the year, and some of this year’s highlights prove that a wholly digital event has the same ability to get people talking.  Cardiff’s 4Pi Productions created a virtual Y Lle Celf for the second year, with Carwyn Evans, Aled Wyn Davies and Gwenno Angharad selecting their favourite works for the exhibition, and Gwynedd artist, Rhiannon Gwyn won the coveted Josef Herman Foundation’s People’s Choice Award for her beautiful Tonnau 2.

Organisers sent chaired bard, Rhys Iorwerth on a poetic pilgrimage across Wales for a beautiful film, reminiscent of Huw Stephens’ epic journey across the country discussing Welsh music.  The first part of the film, Bardd ar Bererindod, was shown last week, with more to come next year.

Aberystwyth’s iconic National Library of Wales provided the stunning backdrop to a folk concert with Eve Goodman, Cerys Hafana and last year’s festival favourites, Pedair – a folk ‘supergroup’ – with Gwenan Gibbard, Gwyneth Glyn, Meinir Gwilym and Sian James performing at Tŷ Gwerin o Bell.

The Eisteddfod is well-known for providing opportunities for former winners to perform at future festivals, and this year’s AmGen was no different.  Composer, Patrick Rimes was commissioned to write a piece celebrating the ‘Hen Ganiadau’ (Welsh solos written by composers born before 1900) and showcasing the talkents of former winners of the Eisteddfod’s famous Blue Riband awards.  Titled, Deffro’r Llwch: Rhwng yr Hen Ganiadau a’r Nodau Newydd, writer, Beth Celyn was commissioned to create the accompanying narrative.

Partnerships remain integral to the success of the Eisteddfod’s work.  And one which shone brightly this year was the partnership with the Invertigo Theatre Company, headed up by Steffan Donnelly. Last week saw the launch of his brand new project, Dramâu Cymru, a free online resource which aims to collect Welsh language plays from every period and make them available to everyone.  The launch was accompanied by two powerful monologues, one with Lauren Connelly and the other with John Ogwen.  Both are available to watch again on the Eisteddfod’s YouTube channel.

And with ‘Eisteddfod week’ over for another year, people are already looking forward to 2022, as Betsan Moses says, “We’ve learnt a lot over the past two years.  I think we’ve got to know our audiences better than ever, and we’ve also used our platforms to reach out to new audiences.  We’ve also learnt that people enjoy watching sessions again and catching up with sets and performances in their own time.

“Now’s the time for us to evaluate everything and see how we can take the lessons we’ve learnt in AmGen and combine them with a ‘real Eisteddfod’ and create a festival which is progressive, exciting, and attractive whilst still remaining true to our all-important roots.”


Photo credit: EGC / Aled Llywelyn.

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