Here are notes from the event held on 20th May in Swansea. They are at the translators and will be available in Welsh soon. However as we have the second event this Sunday 27th in Venue Cymru. Llandudno.....
Topics covered included a need for a new festival, marketing Welsh language material to non-Welsh speaking audiences, a database of registered accredited tutors and a need for an event that is especially developed for folk club organisers.
Notes from Tradiators’ Event
20 May, National Waterfront Museum Swansea
Discussion and debate around the folk arts and those who champion, support and deliver.
The group chose to separate to talk about two items.
The first group from Pontardawe naturally spoke about their strong desire for a festival in Pontardawe that reflected the existence of a festival here since 1978. They were clear that any festival had to be sufficiently different from the previous one, that it was inclusive and celebratory and that it needed a dedicated team to be able to ensure good governance, financial management and a clear artistic vision.
The second group talked more generically about folk/traditional music from Wales, issues of language, identity, marketing and branding from the perspective of folk club organisers and concert promoters. They too were strong about inclusivity, identity and a sense of place. It is interesting to note that this discussion was held in Welsh.
At the start of the day and at the end of each session, attenders were asked to pass around marketing and contact materials for their own projects and to make sure that they had spoken to everybody present.
After lunch there was a presentation by David and Dilwen Pitt on trac’s HLF funded Mari Lwyd Project, O Wela ni’n Dyfod! Each attender made their own mini Mari fach to take with them.
The afternoon examined the issues raised and sought strategies and plans that could address them.
Attenders were asked if they were willing to have their contact details shared and all those present agreed.
1. A Festival for Pontardawe
2. Canu Gwerin Folk song and Folk clubs
3. Acknowledging communities
A Festival for Pontardawe
A strong desire for a new festival in town
Begin small with a “Folk Day”
ELEMENTS TO INCLUDE
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES
Lack of someone to take financial responsibility
A perceived negative legacy with the previous festival
Old and out of date material on the web
Diary clashes and duplication
Someone to act as a broker of information across communities and groups
Association of Festival Organisers to deal with training a new team, legacy issues, goodwill, legislative and financial matters
Additional suggestions from the plenary
The Pontardawe Summer-Fest is now well established. If we had a folk day perhaps it could be part of Summer Fest
Instruments in slow sessions > Cost and access issues to instruments
Use pizza boxes as bodhrans
Songs relating to Valleys
Project for schools: putting music to the poetry of Gwenallt
Canu Gwerin Folk song and Folk clubs
Language : engaging non-Welsh speakers with Welsh language material
Wales as a Celtic brand
access to Celtic Markets, festivals and concerts
Saint Fagan’s archive and the national libraries
Suggestions from the morning
Entry-level, slow sessions at the beginning of folk club events
Facilitated education sessions at the beginning of events
Collation of Anglo-Welsh material to create a parity of esteem
Instrumental music to lead to singing
Promote the listening tradition
Could there be a register of tutors/workshop and group leaders made available
Additional from the plenary
Yma Mae’n Nghân! : Here’s a song to follow on from BBC’s Story of Wales
10 Welsh Tunes for learners including notation and a CD
Pwt ar y Bys!
I am keen to see/hear more songs in English about the Welsh experience
Integrate Anglo-Welsh songs/poetry with the corpus of material in Cymraeg for a truly national folk Archive
Interest in a music by ear/traditional learning movement in English medium schools.
Funding is tied to local government models of village, town and borough
Some funds are only open to constituted groups or to membership groups
Some folk clubs are just active individuals and the audience they serve do not want to be members of anything
Additional suggestions from the plenary
Think and act small and local : an event need not be over complicated or too expensive
Communities of interest are also communities
composer can be an open-ended description
We were keen to see outcomes that should either be delivered by trac, assisted with administrative or brokering/advocacy support or could be delivered by those present without assistance.
A Festival for Pontardawe
trac can and will broker information and training opportunities of wanted. The Pontardawe Chamber of Trade already take a leading role in the Summer Fest and are willing to promote a folk day as part of it. Cass Smith is already a local maven, distributing news to local tradiators. There will be funding issues if funding is sought however there is a dedicated festival fund available from ACW and the folk/trad sector does not apply to it as much or as ambitiously as other music sectors.
Using a local source such as the poetry of Gwenallt can open access to project funding from organisations like the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the libraries.
Members of this group were keen to pursue the opportunity to use existing networks and linkages to progress this event.
Canu Gwerin Folk song and folk clubs
trac had already begun work researching the theme of collating an Anglo-Welsh resource. We acknowledge that a distinctive Welsh body of work that is native to Wales is rare. What we do have in the existing collections and from the singing of Phil Tanner, Bertie Smith and others is a body of work that came relatively recently to Wales with the changes made to society and mobility in the industrial revolution. Nevertheless, this material has been assimilated into an Anglo Welsh tradition. The Dark Eyed Sailor may have its origins in Somerset or Kent but it came to the Gower and has grown its own relationship with the landscape and the people who inhabit it.
We already have a strong desire to begin an online archive of all of our music, song and related folk arts and feel strongly that this should be part of that archive. The group felt that our national institutions should be more accessible to members of the public wishing to access our cultural heritage and trac will build this desire into its strategic relationships with amongst others the national library, St Fagan’s archives and the body of work within our universities with a view to the creation of a national online resource accompanied by project work and new musical interpretations of our commonwealth.
We are already committed to using WOMEX as the target by which to have steps to developing an internal traditional music industry underway. To this end we will be building on the work done in BEAM, the Big Experiment Arbrawf Mawr to developing suitable ways of training and accrediting musicians in their desire to make a living pursuing their vocation. Partnerships with Community Music Wales and ACW are developing to build tutor training programmes as part of this. We aim by next summer to be offering a register of trained accredited music tutors as part of our portfolio of services.
Clera, the traditional Welsh instrument society have already produced Pw tar y Bys, a collection of tunes accompanied by a CD with slow versions and full session recordings as a learning tool.
Our project Sesiyn yng Nghymru was designed to be a series of led-educative sessions across Wales. We have broadly agreed to work with Clera to build a more coherent series of workshops and tuition events across the whole of Wales into our training programme and welcome the opportunity to work with folk clubs/open mic nights and acoustic music clubs as part of that strand.
trac is already working to establish a Welsh brand in a Celtic music context and is actively seeking partnerships amongst the Irish and Scots sectors to ease this.
trac is keen to work with funders and fundees to encourage the recognition of ABCD- Asset Based Community Development, the discipline of working with what is rather than what should be as a development process. We feel that funders, for example, often have a clearer idea of who and what they will not support rather than what they will. There is a job of work to be done in recognizing the diversity of the UK. A government policy that we should be no more than 600 metres from a scheduled bus stop works fine in cities. That distance however can often be less than the length of a farm lane in rural Wales. We are keen to pursue the diversity of opportunity that this discipline offers.
There is a desire to hold a day specifically for folk clubs. There was agreement that there are over twenty regular folk clubs in Wales and that they have no dedicated network that includes them all. The Director was keen that this group should be as open as possible so that the more successful (in terms of income and attendance) regular music nights that put on acoustic and open mic nights could attend and share their principles with the group. We offered to host such an event as a networking andf peer to peer learning event. The time agreed as most favourable was late September. trac will explore funding options, venues, transport issues and report back to the group.