A FAR OLD LINE - ARAD GOCH THEATRE COMPANY
“The most wonderful event I've experienced in over 30 years of living in Aberystwyth… I think everyone I knew in Aber was there and, among the many tourists and locals, there were people I hadn't seen for years. What a wonderful community feeling there was! It felt like an event that truly belonged to Aber. It felt like it had always been part of Aber” – Mireille Escande de Messieres, member of the community.
The purpose of the Hen Linell Bell - A Far Old Line Project by Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch was to celebrate Ceredigion's culture through a series of exciting, high quality arts performances and events at venues across the town; many of them outdoors. Over a period of ten months, Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch worked closely with the local community - schools, businesses, clubs, and societies - to create and organize an innovative and inclusive festival.
One of the main aims of the festival, inspired by the stories of the area, including the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod, which also coincided with Visit Wales' Year of Legends, was to bring the community of Aberystwyth and the surrounding area together by offering a range of opportunities to participate in.
The project has not only boosted the town's tourism industry and offered something that would attract more visitors to the area, but it’s raised the profile of the Aberystwyth area as a vibrant and interesting creative place to live and visit. It transformed Aberystwyth into a kaleidoscope of colour and a pot of creativity during the summer whilst raising the profile of the Welsh language in a fun and interesting way.
Project activities included:
- A public evening was held in November 2016 to invite members of the local community to offer suggestions on how to demonstrate and portray elements of the tale of Cantre'r Gwaelod.
- In March 2017 a launch evening was held. Two local dancers, Anna ap Robert and Alaw Griffiths were commissioned to create a new folk dance ‘Gwyddno’, and everyone danced the dance together for the first time.
- Musician Patrick Rimes from the famous folk band Calan was commissioned to write new music for the dance.
- Alaw and Anna taught the dance to hundreds of people in offices, schools, clubs, local choirs and outdoors. There were also a number of folk evenings at Canolfan Arad Goch and in local pubs, and local musicians came together to play and learn the new tune of Gwyddno.
- Local people were encouraged to share their own legends and 100 word stories; a book of 100 stories was published at the end of the festival and the book was distributed through local shops, hotels and restaurants.
- Marketing activities, light and sound technical workshops and costume workshops were held in Canolfan Arad Goch for members of the community.
- Workshops included art workshops, printing, costume making and hats, creating banners, building on the beach, creating sculptures with driftwood and pavement drawing - all for free.
The project has raised the profile of the Aberystwyth area as a vibrant and interesting creative place to live and visit. Local people saw that there were large scale events happening and by joining in, improved the quality of life and social cohesion. Throughout the project over 150 individual events were held which saw over 6900 people participating or watching.
As a result of the project's existence, workshops put on by A Far Old Line were free which meant many members of the local community learnt learning new skills which could be used in other aspects of everyday life. Not only did people of all ages and gender benefit but the Welsh language, farming households and businesses benefited.
Positive feedback was received the public who attended the various activities.
“A great festival that brought local residents and visitors together to celebrate the unique culture of this lovely corner of Wales… It was so nice to have the opportunity to take part in bilingual activities and to offer visitors an opportunity to hear Welsh speakers chatting side by side with them”
Obviously from the nature of the course, the results of its results will be seen in years to come as the individuals who attended will have the experience to develop and to implement the project on a large scale and to a high standard, individuals and groups will have the skills and confidence to implement this kind of large scale projects again in the future.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.