Celebrating Culture – Looking to the Future

Coleridge in Wales eventJust as the UK decides to divorce itself from the rest of Europe, the arts and culture scene in Britain has never been more international or multi-cultural. I know many artists and writers are horrified by the way this referendum has turned out, and fearful of yet more funding cuts, but I am sure that, no matter what happens over the coming months, they will continue to create work that shocks us, makes us think and helps us to make sense of the world around us.   

Whether you voted leave or remain, I urge you to continue collaborating across the borders (even across the remain / leave border), welcoming people and sharing ideas as we step into an unknown future. Here are just three upcoming events which will help us to celebrate and look forward to a collaborative, international, multi-cultural future in the arts, whatever happens…

There is a Versopolis event at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July, featuring poets from France, Germany, Norway, Croatia and Austria.

The Wales International Storytelling Festival, Beyond the Border, which attracts storytellers from across the globe, will take place in July, and I’ll be there, anticipating fun, music and stories from around the world.

I’m looking forward to celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl this September in the City of the Unexpected weekend. Dahl was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents, and he travelled to many places during his lifetime, settling eventually in a small corner of England.

I lost my job a few years ago, in the funding cuts which followed the credit crunch, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It was horrible. There could be more funding cuts, and people may lose their jobs. But whether or not people voted for this, we need to work together to ensure that the consequences of this referendum bring good things to Britain, to ensure that collaboration and connections with Europe continue, and to counter the negativity and blame. The arts is one way to do this.

Continued on 28th June 2016…

I’ve just been to an event in Cardiff city centre that was organised as a positive, forward-looking gathering of like-minded people who want to celebrate our international and multi-cultural connections. I’m glad I went, although it was not as ‘blame free’ as I would have liked (I don’t think I’d have felt very welcome if I was a leave voter) but it was overwhelmingly positive and the highlight was performance poetry taking centre stage with some love poems to Europe from a poet whose name I didn’t catch. One of the poems was entitled ‘The Severn Bridge’, to which people cheered, and he commented that he’s never had applause for a title before.

CF4EU event in CardiffOther excellent speakers included Rev. Aled Edwards OBE (Chair of Displaced People in Action) and Shazia Awan (anti-racist campaigner). Some of the speakers were clearly very angry at the results, and very much wanting to talk about blame, others spoke more positively and peacefully about making the best of things and moving on.

Typical Welsh weather of course. Although the first half hour or so was dry, we got a fair share of sideways rain in random bursts, and the brollies went up… but despite the weather there was a good number of people there – a mix of ages. I’m not great at guessing numbers but I’d say at least a few hundred. (More photos on my Facebook page)

CF4EU event in CardiffHere is a quote from the page which advertised the event:

Cardiff Stays is our mark of showing that, regardless of the EU Referendum result, we stand alongside the people of Europe to show we are inclusive, open and patient to understanding how we can make the Leave decision into a positive one for all – regardless of age, gender, race, demographic, location and their Leave or Remain vote. We stay with Europe! Rydym yn aros gyda Ewrop!

It’s time to gather to discuss next steps, to stand up for unity and to channel the city’s positive voices….

All are welcome. Croeso i bawb. We promote positivity around the Referendum, not wishing to blame.

NB. The photo at the top of the page was taken at the recent Coleridge in Wales event, where there was a symbolic ‘marriage’ between Welsh singer Ani Saunders (representing traditional Welsh and particularly Welsh-language culture) and a group from the Sanctuary project in Newport (asylum seekers and refugees who are just beginning to rebuild their lives in Wales).