South West Wales

National Eisteddfod held in Llanelli for sixth time

The National Eisteddfod pavilion at Llanelli Image copyright NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD
Image caption Back in Llanelli - the eisteddfod has returned after 14 years

The 2014 National Eisteddfod is under way in Llanelli, the sixth time the town has hosted the event in its modern form.

The Welsh-language cultural festival is expected to attract around 150,000 visitors to the Carmarthenshire area.

The town last held the nine-day August festival of music, dance, visual arts and original performances and other cultural events in 2000.

An opening gala took place on Friday evening.

The eisteddfod alternates between north and south Wales each year and Llanelli was chosen as host in 2012.

Fund-raising for the event locally has already smashed its £320,000 target, reaching £400,500.

'Great credit'

Garry Nicholas, eisteddfod president and a local Llanelli resident added: "I believe this may be the largest total ever raised as a local fund, and it is a great credit to the people of Carmarthenshire and Wales."

Meanwhile, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has warned that local government reorganisation could have an impact on future funding for the Eisteddfod.

The Williams Commission, set up by the Welsh government, has recommended the 22 councils should be merged to between 10 and 12.

All local councils currently agree to contribute a set amount each, which is worth a total of £370,000 - or 9% - of the eisteddfod's annual income.

Dyfed Edwards, Gwynedd Council's leader and WLGA spokesman on the Welsh language, told BBC Wales any council mergers would require a new agreement.

"Certainly you would need a new contract, because there would be new councils," he said.

"At the moment we should not expect a reduction because we can spread the burden between 22 authorities. But I would say that there is a risk of losing that investment only if there is a campaign for more money."

Radio presenter Roy Noble, chair of the Welsh government's task force which looked at future funding for the eisteddfod, said he hoped the council grant would at least be maintained post reorganisation.

"We don't know which councils will be merged. I know it's a difficult time for all with services being cut but I hope that they will not use this as a reason to not pay their share."

Image copyright Charles Hosea
Image caption The eisteddfod's gold medal for architecture is awarded for the design of this house, Stormy Castle, on Gower

Eisteddfod chief executive, Elfed Roberts, said the matter had not been discussed because everybody was "waiting to see what happens if reorganisation does happen".

He added: "I've got a lot of faith in the relationship which we have with the WLGA.

"It's based on trust, it's based on partnership and I suspect that we will have a discussion and we will come out of it still remaining friends."

This year's festival is taking place on a 35-acre (14 hectare) field or "maes" with the focus of cultural activities in a pink pavilion with six pointed towers.

One of the highlights is the annual chairing of the bard ceremony, when a unique chair, or throne, created by a local carpenter, is awarded for the best poem written in a traditional form of Welsh verse using a strict metre.

The gold medal for architecture is awarded on Saturday to Cardiff-based Loyn and Co for an environmentally-sustainable home in a remote part of Gower.

The judges called Stormy Castle a "spectacular architectural response to both the brief and the site".

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