“Creating the Wales we want to see” – First national queer arts talk of its kind gets underway at the Eisteddfod
"Creu'r Gymru ry'n ni eisiau ei gweld" – mae’r sgwrs gelfyddydol cwiar genedlaethol gyntaf o’i fath yn cael ei chynnal yn yr Eisteddfod
The Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn MS, has seen the Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan at work on a visit to the National Eisteddfod today where – alongside the Lead Designated Member, Siân Gwenllian MS – she officially opened the first ‘Camp Cymru’.
Funded by the Arts Council of Wales and supported by the Welsh Government, Camp Cymru is bringing artists, creatives and members of the LGBTQ+ community together to discuss the Welsh language queer arts in Wales.
Five years since Mas ar y Maes – a Welsh-medium space for LGBTQ+ inclusion and celebration – was established at the Eisteddfod in Cardiff in 2018, the daylong Camp Cymru event will mark another first as it will be the first national queer arts talk of its kind in Wales – all conducted through the medium of Welsh.
It will provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss recent developments, celebrate, and look to the future of the LGBTQ+ community in Wales.
The programme of events, organised by Mas ar y Maes with Pride, demonstrates the Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan operating in practice, helping to support recommendations such as ensuring the needs of Welsh language speakers are met in the representation of LGBTQ+ culture.
Whilst the Welsh language is not a protected characteristic, the Action Plan recognises Welsh speaking LGBTQ+ people have specific Welsh language needs.
Marc Rees is an artist and one of the organisers. He said: “Camp Cymru is a day of events and discussions providing an opportunity to celebrate but also look thoroughly at, and be excited by, the future.
“The Eisteddfod has changed dramatically over the years, and I think it’s so important that we do change. We embrace change. We embrace LGBTQ+ people and their work.
“The Welsh Government’s journey to making Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe is incredibly ambitious. It’s a journey we can make together, and it’s fantastic the Eisteddfod are supporting us.”
The LGBTQ+ Action Plan, which underlines Wales’ intention to advance LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion, was launched in February as part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
It recently received international commendation from the United Nations as “an example of good practice in human rights policy making” and sets out how the Welsh Government will make a real difference to the lives, prospects and outcomes for all LGBTQ+ people as part of an ambition to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe.
Launching Camp Cymru, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, who is a Welsh learner, delivered a speech in Cymraeg. She said: “For too long, Welsh LGBTQ+ culture and heritage has been hidden, despite it contributing to our nation’s legacy.
“These stories need to be told and events like Camp Cymru give us the chance to celebrate and improve the representation of LGBTQ+ communities in the heritage and culture of Wales.
“At a time when it can feel like our rights are at risk of being rolled back, and when we can all too often still face discrimination and harassment, we must stand for unity over division, inclusion rather than exclusion and hope not hate.”
The Welsh Government’s ambition is to see the number of people able to speak Welsh reach one-million by 2050.
The Deputy Minister added: “To me, Cymraeg 2050 and the LGBTQ+ Action Plan go hand in hand. This is all about creating the Wales we want to see, and the Wales we want to shape for our young people.
“By working together, we can help ensure Welsh LGBTQ+ culture flourishes – and realise another vision on our journey towards improving equality for all LGBTQ+ communities.”
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government launched its Grassroots Pride Fund, to support smaller and rural event to help communities connect. Pride events across the nation continue to offer social opportunities among groups, including LGBTQ+ people who are Welsh speakers.
Sian Gwenllian MS said: “It is excellent to see the National Eisteddfod’s efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion go from strength to strength – embedding the vision of an equal nation where Cymraeg belong to us all at the heart of the festival’s mission and programme.
“By working with and supporting the creative talents of the LGBTQ+ community, we are able to build on the success of previous innovations such as Mas ar y Maes and give practical effect to our LGBTQ+ Action Plan which aims to make our nation the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe at what is Europe’s largest cultural festival.
“Holding the first Camp Cymru event at the Eisteddfod this year not only ensures an important opportunity to enjoy queer art and culture naturally through the medium of Welsh, but also is a clear statement that the Eisteddfod belongs to everybody and celebrates all of the diversity of Wales. It shows that by working together we can create a more just, fair and tolerant nation where everyone is free to be themselves.”
Notes to editors
- Action 33: Ensure that LGBTQ+ Welsh speakers have access to Welsh medium support services.
- Action 40: Celebrate and improve the representation of LGBTQ+ communities in the heritage and culture of Wales.
- o Work in collaboration with LGBTQ+ organisations and key partners to ensure the needs of Welsh language speakers are met in the representation of LGBTQ+ culture. One such example is the Mas ar y Maes partnership.
Mas ar y Maes with Pride, is a community of freelance organisations and partners committed to creating a queer cultural scene in the Welsh language featuring high quality work, driven by cohesion, community spirit and inclusivity. The network includes Stonewall Cymru, the National Eisteddfod, Glitter Cymru, Pontio Arts Centre and Pride Cymru alongside freelance artists; Marc Rees, Emmy Stonelake, Rahim El Habachi and Osian Meilir.