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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Weather blamed for festival loss
The Eisteddfod Pavilion
The event in St David's suffered two days of strong winds and heavy rain
Freak weather at last year's National Eisteddfod in Pembrokeshire has contributed to a mounting cash crisis for festival organisers.

Two days of atrocious wind and rain kept visitors away from last August's festival in St David's in Pembrokeshire which meant attendance figures dropped dramatically.

A cut in grant funding and the foot-and-mouth crisis, which kept many people away from the previous year's event in Denbigh, have also taken their toll.

Efforts are now being made to increase revenue to avoid making cut backs to future eisteddfods - the annual celebration of the Welsh language and culture.

We are not the first arts organisation to face a financial problem and we will not be the last
Eisteddfod director Elfed Roberts

Eisteddfod director Elfed Roberts said it would be unfair to disclose figures until after the eisteddfod council meets next month but he admitted there was a big challenge ahead.

"The National Eisteddfod is facing a cash crisis and that could force organisers to take another look at what is on offer in future," he told BBC News Online.

"But there are no plans whatsoever to change this year's National Eisteddfod."

The event attracted 162,000 when it was held in Llanelli in 2000 but appeals by the organisers to anyone who could have been affected by foot-and- mouth to stay away in 2001 saw numbers drop to 140,000.

All 2,500 members of the eisteddfod council are being asked to bring along 10 friends to this year's event at Meifod near Welshpool in Montgomeryshire after numbers fell to 130,000 last year.

National Eisteddfod Director Elfed Roberts
Elfed Roberts said the eisteddfod was facing a cash crisis

The cultural festival has also seen its central funding drop off in recent years.

In 1997 it received 376,000 but this dropped below the 300,000 mark in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and stands at 350,000 this year.

"When you account for all this, this is why we are facing this problem at the moment," added Mr Roberts.

"We are not the first arts organisation to face a financial problem and we will not be the last."

Organisers are talking to the Welsh Language Board, Welsh Tourist Board, Assembly and other organisations to see if more central funding could be available.

A committee is also looking at the structure of the Eisteddfod over the next 15 to 20 years and that is due to report back in October.

Benefits

The eisteddfod is being staged in Newport in 2004 and near Bangor in 2005 but Mr Roberts said he was hopeful the new fund-raising initiatives would avoid the need for any changes.

Regional organisers in Pembrokeshire say little more could have been done to make last year's festival at St David's a greater success.

Councillor John Thomas, chairman of the Pembrokeshire Eisteddfod Committee, said: "We had a very good eisteddfod apart from two days when the weather was not with us.

"We were out on a headland and the wind was coming in from the sea so we had quite a storm there.

"We can't control the weather but apart from that it went very well."

He said Pembrokeshire was still feeling the benefits.

"It certainly did a lot for the Welsh language in the area," he added.

"More people started learning Welsh and people could just not get tutors - that is still the case in some areas."


SEE ALSO:
Row over eisteddfod location
06 Mar 03  |  Wales
Festival clear-up continues
12 Aug 02  |  Wales


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