Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 08:20 UK

Wales' culture crossing Atlantic

Only Men Aloud!
Only Men Aloud! are among those singing Wales' praises at the festival

Welsh heritage and culture is to headline at one of America's top arts festivals this summer.

Wales is the featured nation in the 10-day Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC from 24 June.

More than 100 firms, artists and experts are to showcase contemporary Welsh culture, industry and traditions. under the theme of sustainability.

The Smithsonian, known in the US as the "nation's attic", is a research centre for the arts, sciences and history.

The annual Smithsonian festival is held on the National Mall, the scene of President Obama's inauguration in snowy January this year.

But in the hot summer months, the stretch of land between the Smithsonian's two museums hosts an annual open-air cultural festival that is visited by thousands of people.

The 2009 event is to focus on Wales and Welsh heritage. First Minister Rhodri Morgan launched Wales' programme at the event in March.

General Views of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2004
The folklife festival is held at the National Mall in Washington DC

It includes a week of workshops, readings and debate by five young Welsh writers, billed as following in the footsteps of poet Dylan Thomas half a century earlier.

The writers - Tom Anderson, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Eurig Salisbury and Owen Sheers - will perform and discuss their work at venues including Marymount University Campus Cafe and the Writers' Center in Bethesda.

The woodland charity Coed Cymru has been invited to show a design for its affordable housing project, Ty Unnos, inspired by the ancient Welsh tradition.

Historically, a tŷ unnos was a Welsh tradition based on the belief that if people could erect a property with four walls between sunset and sunrise and have smoke coming from a chimney by the morning, they could take ownership of that land.

Cardiff-based choir Only Men Aloud! are among a musical contingent that includes harpists Siân James and Robin Huw Bowen, Radio Wales' presenter Frank Hennessy and his band, The Hennessys, and a delegation from Welsh National Opera.

Dylan Thomas
Poet Dylan Thomas gave readings tours across America in the 1950s

Traditional Welsh skills represented included a coracle maker, a blacksmith, a mussel farmer and a stone waller.

The National Slate Museum in Llanberis has been given two tonnes of slate by the owners of Penrhyn Quarry, in Bethesda and the Ffestiniog Slate Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, to take over to the festival.

Quarryman Dafydd Davies will be demonstrating the craft of splitting and dressing slate while letter cutter John Neilson will be carving in slate a poem by Wales' National Poet, Gillian Clark.

The Wales showcase will be located in an area equivalent to four football pitches and split into themed areas.

The themes are: Wales in the World; Language and Literature; Industry, Heritage and Innovation; Building and Landscapes; Ecotourism and Pastimes; Home and Community; Along the Water; and Music and Dance.

Rugby posts

There will also be a 'pub' stage and a main stage designed to represent urban and rural environments, including rugby posts.

Speaking at the launch of the Wales programme, Rhodri Morgan said: "This is a unique and fantastic opportunity to promote Wales in Washington at a time when the American people are taking a new path, with a new president.

"What better way could there be to see the deep-rooted and vibrant culture and creativity of Wales than this showcase right in the heart of the capital of the United States."

The Smithsonian Institution bills itself as the world's largest museum complex and research organisation, composed of 19 museums, 9 research centres, and the National Zoo.

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