Eisteddfod organisers defiant after Llanrwst losses

The National Eisteddfod has defended this year’s festival in Llanrwst after it made a loss of nearly £159,000.

Stormy weather in August led to extra costs for the Brifwyl with the young people’s campsite closed and two Maes B gigs cancelled.

An independent report will look into the decision to hold the Eisteddfod in the town, despite flooding concerns. The site of the Maes was moved from its original site earlier this year, following Storm Gareth.

Organisers said the decision to pay all artists and refund Maes B tickets had ”affected the festival’s finances greatly”, thus failing to deliver a profit as originally hoped. But they executives insisted the festival was still ”a great success”.

Ashok Ahir, president of the Eisteddfod court, said on Saturday: ”Nobody wants to announce a loss after a festival which was a success in so many ways, but this is what we have to do…saying that, it’s important that people realise why we incurred a loss this year.”

”Yes, we had some additional expense on the Maes at the end of the week to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, and to make sure we had ample car parking available. A number of other festivals across the UK had to be cancelled or close due to the weather, but I’m pleased that our forward planning enabled us to keep the Maes itself open.”

”And no-one can disagree with the difficult decision we as a board had to take following discussions with the emergency services and our partners, to shut Maes B. The weather forecast was extremely dangerous at the end of the week, and we had no choice other than to cancel. This, in essence, is responsible for the majority of the financial loss”

Mr Ahir warned the Eisteddfod could not afford to face losses and would concentrate on replenishing its central funds in the next few years.

He added: ”We must remind everyone that this loss will not be carried over to the Ceredigion Eisteddfod or the Llŷn and Eifionydd festival.  Our central funds will cover the costs without expecting future Eisteddfodau to pay for the effect of the bad weather in Conwy.”

Two years ago, the National Eisteddfod in Bodedern made a £93,000 profit, despite being hit by extra costs due to bad weather and security reasons.

But the decision to host an experimental fence-free Brifwyl in Cardiff last year led to losses of £290,000, despite attracting a record half-a-million visitors. That deficit was paid for by the festival’s reserves.

It’s thought the losses in Cardiff Bay, largely as a result of extra security costs, also led organisers to decide against staging a similar free event in Caernarfon in 2021. Last month, they announced a traditional Eisteddfod would be held instead in the village of Boduan on the Llyn Peninsula.

National Eisteddfod CEO Betsan Moses said: ”Many people have said that the Conwy County Eisteddfod was a memorable week. The weather may have beaten Maes B at the end of the week, but the festival itself carried on.”

“This was a week which managed to combine the traditional and the new, which showcased ambitious shows like Myrddin ap Dafydd, Gwyneth Glyn and Twm Morys’ Y Tylwyth, and allowed us to re-discover Kate Roberts’ classic, Te yn y Grug, through the eyes of Karen Owen and Cefin Roberts, with songs by Al Lewis.”

”Thank you to everyone who was part of the organising, to the young people who were so polite and understanding when we had to shut Maes B, our volunteers and to the staff, who worked so hard throughout the week to make sure that the Conwy County National Eisteddfod was able to remain open until the final Saturday night.”

Nearly £400,000 was raised by the local fund in the run up to the festival.

Conwy County Eisteddfod executive chair, Trystan Lewis, said: ”I cannot thank the people of Conwy County enough for their work, enthusiasm and friendship over the past two years. Nothing was too much trouble. It was a great honour to lead a team which worked so hard to make the festival a success.”

”From the creation of the committees until the final voluntary shift on the Maes in the rain, I, and the Eisteddfod as a whole, are hugely grateful to every single person who was part of the project.  You laid the foundations for a wonderful festival, and today’s news cannot dampen this in any way.”

Two replacement gigs for Maes B, under the banner of ‘Plan B’, will be held in Carmarthen and Wrexham before Christmas.

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