National Eisteddfod: More money 'with modernisation'

Education Minister Leighton Andrews says more public money could be available for the National Eisteddfod if it takes steps to modernise.

He suggested he would like to see more done to attract non-Welsh speakers to the event, and for the development of a better experience for visitors.

The eisteddfod is on this week at Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Chief executive Elfed Roberts said he was looking forward to hearing suggestions and changes have been made.

The Welsh government currently gives the event about £500,000 in grant every year.

Speaking at the eisteddfod, Mr Andrews suggested that this could increase in the future, but with conditions.

For example, he wants to see the event broaden its appeal further beyond Welsh speakers.

Mr Andrews said the organisers could learn from the work done by other festivals in Wales to widen their appeal in recent years.

The current Welsh government funding is a significant contribution towards the estimated £3.3m it costs to stage the week-long event every year.

Before Mr Andrews's comments, Mr Roberts said the number of visitors it welcomed was crucial, and the event could struggle financially if attendances were low.

Last week organisers said they had had to make cuts to this year's event because of financial pressures.

Lost money

Mr Andrews will meet eisteddfod officials next month to discuss the event's financial future.

Before it began, organiser Hywel Wyn Edwards said some buildings would be smaller this year, but there would be no changes to activities.

The eisteddfod council said previous events had lost money.

Mr Roberts said that at the moment things looked good for this year's eight-day event as local people had already passed their £300,000 fund-raising target.

The Vale of Glamorgan is not a strongly Welsh-speaking area, but Mr Roberts said the eisteddfod had something for everyone.

"I think the eisteddfod has modernised over the past 10 or 12 years and we're trying to introduce new technology, we're trying to introduce all sorts of things on an annual basis.

"But we feel we should never stop modernising or developing the eisteddfod," he said.

"The eisteddfod is all about the culture and diversity of Wales, but there is also a lot more to do here. A lot of local things, and I'd like to see people travel from north Wales to see what the Vale has to offer."

Mr Roberts said it was tricky, but the eisteddfod was achieving a balance between the event being somewhere Welsh speakers could be immersed in the language and making it accessible to others.

"The Welsh language is for everyone in Wales," he added.

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