Calls for Eisteddfod to rethink Welsh language policy after rapper pulls out due to English songs

The Eisteddfod said it engaged "at length" with the artist and "respected" his decision to continue creating bilingual music

There have been calls for organisers of the Eisteddfod to rethink its Welsh language policy following a decision by a rapper to pull out of the event due to his songs having "too much English."

The event, which promotes and celebrates the nation's culture and language, has come under the spotlight following Sage Todz' decision not to perform at the annual event

Sage Todz, whose real name is Eretoda Ogunbanwo, is known for his high-energy performances of his rap music that includes a mix of Welsh and English. He performed at last year's event in Tregaron.

Held during the first week of August every year, the National Eisteddfod is a celebration of the culture and language in Wales and describes itself as an "inclusive" and "welcoming festival".

The festival travels from place to place, alternating between north and south Wales, attracting around 150,000 visitors and over 250 tradestands and stalls.

It it engaged "at length" with the artist and "respected" his decision to continue creating bilingual music, but its policy states that "all creative works and competitions must be in Welsh except where noted otherwise for a particular competition."

The rapper's decision opened up a debate on the issue, with many calling for the event to be more accessible, with others sharing positive experiences they've had at the Eisteddfod.

Former health minister and MS Vaughan Gething, said performers like Sage "help to grow the language" and urged the Eisteddfod to "reconsider their approach".

"This is the major showcase event for the future of the language", he said.

Members of the band Adwaith posted on social media that there should be a panel consisting of people of colour and Welsh learners to make it more accessible with also calls to "loosen" the language policy for Maes B, which is the after dark music festival, described as the Eisteddfod's "little brother".

Welsh music band Adwaith called for parts of the event to "loosen its language policy"

Adwaith's tweet said: "Loosening the language policy for Maes B, which is the main platform for Welsh artists, especially young Welsh artists. Keeping the rest of the Eisteddfod through the medium of Welsh.

"This would open up opportunities for bilingual artists to perform without loosening what the Eisteddfod is about. I think this is something to consider and would be taking a step in in the right direction for it to be more inclusive."

The festival alternates between north and south Wales and its history dates back to 1176

Ashok Ahir, President of the National Eisteddfod Court and Chair of the Eisteddfod Management Board, said it continues to work with partners to make "Welsh accessible to a wider range of individuals and groups".

"The National Eisteddfod is a Welsh language festival and we're proud to celebrate the language across all genres of the art. We've created many opportunities for artists to perform in Welsh for the first time."

"We continue to work with many partners to make Welsh accessible to a wider range of individuals and groups.  This includes those who work in the creative sector that aren't confident or are new to the language.

"Performing, competing and conversing through the medium of Welsh  - and in Welsh alone - is the main purpose of the National Eisteddfod for the only week of the year when the festival is held.

"We respect Sage Todz' passion and dedication for the languages he wishes to include in his music. It was his decision that he wanted to perform in English and bilingual only. We were keen for him to perform at the festival but we respect his decision not to perform in Welsh alone.

"We've been deeply disappointed by the racism aimed at himself and others on social media following his announcement.

"The National Eisteddfod is committed to being an inclusive festival that respects and celebrates diversity in all our activities and procedures." 

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