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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Cash appeal to save eisteddfod
Newport eisteddfod site
Alcohol has been on sale this year for the first time
National Eisteddfod organisers are appealing for supporters of the event to give cash to safeguard its future.

Officials have revealed that 300,000 must be found before the autumn to ensure the event continues without selling assets.

Organisers said there had been long negotiations with the Welsh Language Board and the Welsh Assembly Government.

But, they said, they could wait no longer for a decision and appealed to supporters for help.

Dafydd Whittall, vice-president of the eisteddfod's council, said the event was facing "difficult financial times".

And, he added : "We are holding a cultural festival in a minority language, and it will always need to be supported.

"We need 300,000 to ensure that the eisteddfod is put back on a sound financial footing.

"If we don't get that, we will have to look at our assets, which are very small indeed. We may have to realise those assets, but we don't want to do that.

"We are well aware that there are many people who would be prepared to make a contribution, and we have already raised 5,000."

Even before the start of this year's event in Newport, there had been warnings of financial problems.

Last year's festival in Meifod made a small profit of around 1,000 - but staffing and running costs meant an overall yearly loss of 130,000.

Earlier eisteddfodau were hit by setbacks including foot-and-mouth disease and bad weather.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said the eisteddfod had been given a grant of 360,000, which was 20% more than last year.

Culture Minister Alun Pugh had met regularly with eisteddfod officials, and would be meeting them again in the autumn when the financial situation from this year's eisteddfod was clear.

Welsh Language Board chairman Rhodri Williams has welcomed the decision to launch an emergency financial appeal.

He said the fact that the appeal had been launched would make it easier for the board to decide on the future grant for the cultural event.

This year's event in Newport had, he said, showed that the event had already started to modernise, in line with the recommendations of a specially-commissioned report into the eisteddfod.

Additions to facilities on the maes like the sale of alcohol meant that the organisers had taken heed of advice to give the event a broader appeal.

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