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Home / Latest News / Cerys Matthews asks the Welsh nation to tell her what Wales means to them

Cerys Matthews asks the Welsh nation to tell her what Wales means to them

What is Wales to you? Ask each of Wales’ three million residents and you’ll probably get as many answers.

Yet there are likely be a cluster of things that many will agree upon.

It might be a song, a moment in history, a person, a word, poetry, a place, a flavour, a view, a saying or a story.

With some 2,500 world music aficionados arriving in Cardiff in late October for world music market WOMEX 13, Cerys Matthews, artistic director of the opening concert, hatched the idea of asking the nation “what is Wales?” so that she and the team hosting the event can give delegates a sense of place.

“Lots of organisations and businesses are involved in promoting Wales, in projecting to the world a little of what we are,” says Matthews.

“I want to ask the people of Wales what they think are the things that set us apart, that make this amazing country of ours unique.”

Today organisers are calling on the people of Wales to get involved in the discussion by tweeting their view about what is Wales to organisers (see panel for details).

WOMEX is the most important international market of world music and one of the most spectacular world music showcase festivals on the planet.

The international fair brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music and also includes concerts, conferences and documentary films.

That’s why Matthews believes it’s the ideal opportunity to project who we are to the wider world.

“Over the whole five days of WOMEX, some 2,500 delegates from 1,250 companies, from across 100 countries and 300 national and international journalists, come together in one city to network, do business, explore diverse music cultures, listen to 40 speakers in 20 conference sessions and music showcases by day,” she explains.

“That’s why I started to think about this project. I wanted to give them an idea of Wales, quickly and in a focused way, because it can be confusing for a visitor to come to Britain and look at this tiny little island, size wise, because you’ve got Scotland, you’ve got England and Northern Ireland, then you’ve got Wales.

“So to really clarify what we are as Wales musically is my job, but also to get these people to come back again, to visit and to tell a friend when they go back home it would be good to have a very clear vision of what Wales is and how we stand apart form our cousins in the rest of Britain.

“That’s where this idea was formed.

“It occurred to me that, if we’re all getting excited, then we should involve everybody in Wales if we can.

“I took BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to Wales recently to ask a similar question, although it was politically skewed in the light of Scotland going for independence – what do people in Wales think.”

“Now, 14 years after the yes vote for devolution, it’s a really great time to be asking this question, getting the conversation going,” adds the singer, author and broadcaster.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of increasing our confidence as a nation and understanding who and what we are.

“Now what we really need to do is express it clearly to the world.

“I’m really excited to find out what the people think.

“We’ve got a lot to be proud of in Wales. I can’t wait to hear what people say.”

How to get involved

To tweet your views of What is Wales, explaining what it is you think makes Wales special or defines it in some way, join the Twitter conversation by using #whatiswales or in Welsh #bedicymru.

Those who don’t use Twitter can contribute their 140 characters by logging onto www.cerddcymru.com and clicking through to the What is Wales page.

Contributions can be added in the comments section, and the Twitter conversation can be followed on the live feed.

The conversation online will draw to a close at the end of September. One hundred comments will be selected for projection at WOMEX events and it is hoped at other cultural venues across Wales between October 23-27.

Womex 13 is in Cardiff from October 23 to 27. To find out more, visit www.wmc.org.uk or www.womex.com

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