Welsh culture in the spotlight at Wales Week Dublin

Rhys a Meinir, Wales Dome, Japan 2

Wales Arts International is delivering an exciting programme of artistic and cultural events to be hosted as part of Welsh Government’s Wales Week Dublin 2020.

Designed to bridge St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day and to promote Wales in Ireland as a confident outward looking globally responsible nation, Wales Week Dublin will run from 9-13 March, with the focal point of the programme hosted at Tŷ Cymru Digital Dome housed in the Custom House Quay building, also home to Dublin’s EPIC (Irish Emigration) Museum.

The week’s events focus on key areas of cooperation including business; cultural relations; academia; future generations; global responsibility; tourism, heritage, creativity and language in alignment with Welsh Government’s new International Strategy. Wales Arts International will bring the cultural offer to life and will focus on developing networks and nurturing new relationships between the arts and culture sectors of Wales and Ireland.

On Monday: Museums, Cultural Democracy and Spoken Word

Amgueddfa Cymru will kick off the programme of cultural events hosting a discussion and celebration of the partnership between the National Museums of Wales and Ireland beyond Brexit, which sees collaboration at its heart.

Wales Arts International’s activity will then start with REIC x Y Stamp: Spoken Word and Poetry Performance, an all-female poetry evening marking International Women’s Day and celebrating past and present cultural links between both nations. Providing a platform for our indigenous languages, this event will showcase young Welsh literary and Irish talent.

On Wednesday: A Focus on Youth, Language and Diaspora

To further mark Wales’ pioneering Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, Welsh Government Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan will participate in the launch of an exciting partnership between Ireland’s world leading minority language digital platform TG Lurgan and Wales’ national voluntary youth organisation Urdd Gobaith Cymru, which provides opportunities through the medium of Welsh for its 55,000 members.

Wales Arts International will also host a panel discussion in partnership with Ireland’s Other Voices festival, which travelled to Wales for the first time in November in partnership with Theatr Mwldan and Triongl. The panel will explore the themes of migration and identity in Wales and Ireland, the influence of our languages and culture on an international stage and how we connect and reconnect with our diaspora. The event will be chaired by Radio 1 and 6’s Huw Stephens with contributions from Philip King of Other Voices festival, Bethan Kilfoil from RTÉ, Irish harpist Laoise Kelly and musicians Lauren Ní Chasaide and Georgia Ruth who both participated in Wales Arts International’s recent Mamiaith collaborative project.

Since 2001, Other Voices has brought musicians and artists from across the world to Dingle, Ireland to raise their voices to sing. In 2019, Lleisiau Eraill Aberteifi – Other voices Cardigan was produced in partnership between South Wind Blows, Theatr Mwldan and Triongl and was broadcast on S4C. Other Voices Cardigan is staged with the support and investment of Welsh Government and Rialtas na hÉíreann/Government of Ireland.

On Thursday: Arts & Health, European Première and Cultural Networking

In the field of Arts and Health, Wales Arts International will host an event featuring a screening of National Dance Company Wales’ inspirational film ‘Reflections’, based on their Dance for Parkinson’s programme. The event will also present Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, in conversation with Fearghus Ó Conchúir, Artistic Director of NDCWales and provide networking and creative conversation opportunities for Welsh and Irish practitioners and policymakers in conjunction with Creative Ireland.

A round table discussion and networking event will also take place, exploring current connections and new opportunities for collaboration in partnership with Culture Ireland with a focus on developing networks, touring, skills exchange and language development opportunities between Wales, Ireland and beyond.

One of the highlights of the week will be Gŵyl y Gorwel: a special evening of art, language, music and conversation. This will play host to the European première of the immersive 360 animation of Rhys a Meinir by Cian Ciarán (composer, songwriter, producer & one fifth of Super Furry Animals) and Bait Studio. Featuring a recorded soundtrack performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales and commissioned poetry by Gruffudd Antur narrated by Rhys Ifans (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman etc). Rhys a Meinir evokes the heartbreak and drama of this ancient Welsh tale.

Following the showing of Rhys a Meinir, guests will also enjoy a performance by award winning singer songwriter and harpist Georgia Ruth and a conversation with digital artist Mark James (Producer of Gruff Rhys’ PANG! film), Huw Stephens and Wales Arts International’s Eluned Hâf.

There will also be pop-up performances for the public by Kizzy Crawford and other artists at CHQ during the week.

On Friday: Digital Innovation

Connections in the arts and creative economies of Ireland and Wales will be encouraged at a networking event for the Creative Industries hosted by the Clwstwr £1m digital innovation fund team and at the British and Irish Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The programme of cultural events will close with a screening of Gruff Rhys’ visual album PANG! and a conversation with Gruff ahead of his sold out performance at the Christ Church Cathedral in the evening to kick off Saint Patrick’s Festival.

Head of Wales Arts International, Eluned Haf, said:

“The cultural and linguistic connections between our sister Celtic Nations are both old and contemporary. The Mabinogion folk tales or the ap Huw Manuscrpits are still being performed by artists and enjoyed by participants on both sides of the Irish sea. Nurturing cultural relationships with our closest European neighbour is more important than ever, and we’re delighted to work with Welsh Government in Dublin to promote a positive perception of Wales and Welsh culture in Ireland. Looking beyond Brexit, it’s really important that Wales’ identity is recognised for its cultural distinctiveness in Ireland and further afield. This is our new front door to the European Union.”

Welsh Government Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, said:

“Wales and Ireland have so many wonderful and deep-routed connections and I’m delighted that we will be able to celebrate these during Wales Week Dublin 2020.

Not only do we enjoy strong cultural links, but our nations are intertwined when it comes to academia, business and the arts. I am confident that this relationship will only grow in strength and our Welsh Government remains as committed as ever to our friends in Ireland.”

All of Wales Arts International’s planned events will promote their common values and present Wales as an outward-looking, globally responsible nation with a thriving contemporary arts scene that’s open to collaboration and exchange. The opportunity that Wales Week Dublin presents will extend the global reach of Welsh artists whilst also emphasising a warm welcome in Wales for visiting artists.