Cardiff’s only festival dedicated to the promotion of the Welsh language looks set to be saved after the Welsh Government stepped in to make up a£20,000 funding shortfall caused by Cardiff Council’s proposed budget cuts.
YourCardiff reported earlier this week that Tafwyl, run by charity Menter Caerdydd, was facing an uncertain future after Cardiff Council proposed to withdraw the £20,000 grant it usually provides to support the festival.
Menter Caerdydd’s chief executive Sian Lewis said that the cash represented around 35% of the total budget for Tafwyl, and without it the festival was unlikely to go ahead in 2013.
But the Welsh Government has this morning announced that it will provide a £20,000 grant to Tafwyl, with Welsh language minister Leighton Andrews saying he had acted quickly to remove any uncertainty around this year’s event.
He said: “Following concerns that Cardiff Council’s budget cut proposals included plans to cut funding to Tafwyl I have committed £20,000 of grant funding for the festival.
“This is a unique case. This important cultural festival has expanded year on year since it was launched in 2006 and is invaluable in promoting the Welsh language. It has the potential to become a national event in our capital city.
“I recognise that Cardiff’s budget negotiations are still ongoing. However, I have acted now to ensure there is no prolonged period of uncertainty for the festival organisers, or for those people from outside the capital who are planning to travel to Tafwyl. Over 10% of those who attended last year were from outside Cardiff.
“I have come to this decision following a discussion with Cardiff’s cabinet member for culture, Councillor Huw Thomas, who I know was working hard to find a sustainable future for the Tafwyl celebration. Coun Thomas has committed to Cardiff once again providing support in kind through the supply of the Cardiff castle grounds and considerable staff time and officer support. Now that the uncertainty for 2013 has been removed, discussions can now focus on how the event develops in future years.
“The Welsh Government is committed to promoting the Welsh language and ensuring it flourishes within our communities. We all have a responsibility in securing the future of the Welsh language.”
Sian Lewis, Chief Executive of Menter Caerdydd, added: “Tafwyl is an example of a successful project that has grown through the will of Cardiff’s people and the 56 organisations and establishments that have supported the festival.
“As with any other art and cultural festival, the continuance of Tafwyl depends on attaining grants from many sources. Following last week’s news of a 100 per cent cut in funding for Tafwyl from Cardiff Council, we are thankful for today’s announcement that the minister, Leighton Andrews, has stepped in and offered the £20,000 which will now secure the future of the festival in its present format. Securing opportunities to use the Welsh language outside of school hours and work is essential for the future of the language.”
Councillor Huw Thomas, cabinet member for sport, leisure and culture, said he was “delighted” funding had been found to safeguard Tafwyl.
He said: “I would personally like to thank The Welsh Government and Leighton Andrews for their help in helping to achieve this and I’m pleased that once again we have, through partnership working, managed to secure a happy outcome.
“Proposing the 2013-2014 budget has been extremely difficult with tough decisions needed to be taken to ensure that our frontline services, such as schools and social services, are protected. However the Welsh language remains an important priority for both this council and the Welsh Government and today’s news will ensure that Tafwyl continues to be a thriving and popular event for Cardiff.”
However, following the announcement, Conservative South Wales Central AM Andrew RT Davies warned that the Welsh Government’s decision to intervene by “cherry-picking” worthy causes set a “dangerous precedent”.
Mr Davies said: “I am concerned that this intervention sets a dangerous precedent, with the Minister intervening on behalf of the Welsh Government to cherry-pick worthy causes to save.
“Tafwyl is an important cultural festival but I would be interested to know why other important cultural hubs for the Welsh language are not worthy of similar protection. What about Chapter Arts Centre, or the Gate, or indeed the Sherman Theatre? These organisations, like many more subjected to cuts across the city, play an invaluable role in supporting and protecting the Welsh language. Is the Minister going to ride in and save them too, and if not how will he explain that decision to them?”