The future of a Welsh-language festival is at risk if Cardiff council refuses to reverse a £20,000 funding cut, organisers have warned.
Over the next week, 10,000 people are expected to attend Welsh-language events across Cardiff, including comedy nights and gigs, as part of Tafwyl.
The Welsh Government stepped in to save this year’s festival, which starts tomorrow, after the Labour-run council withdrew a £20,000 grant as part of budget cuts.
This year’s main event takes place at Cardiff Castle on Saturday June 15, with the council donating use of the historic venue and staff time “in kind”.
Organisers Menter Caerdydd say the £20,000 grant from Welsh Language Minister Leighton Andrews is expected to be a one-off.
Chief executive Sian Lewis said if the council refuses to re-establish its grant for next year Tafwyl could be scrapped.
The charity has received backing from prominent Welsh speakers in Cardiff, who have co-signed a letter calling for a long-term commitment from the council to support Tafwyl.
“The number of Welsh-speakers in Cardiff has doubled in 15 years and demand for Welsh-medium schooling far outstrips the current provision,” Mrs Lewis said.
“We at Menter Caerdydd believe Cardiff council understands the role the Welsh-speaking community plays in the city and that Tafwyl demonstrates it is a language for all whatever their mother-tongue or background.
“Although we are grateful for some support from the local authority this year in kind, we will continue to press the local authority to reinstate its funding for this unique festival next year.”
“We have to have council support in kind and in cash to continue Tafwyl.
“We have not been given any indication from the Welsh Government that the £20,000 will continue next year,” Mrs Lewis said.
“The fact that it’s free is very important to ensure it is inclusive for everyone, not just Welsh speakers. It has huge potential to be a national event.”
She said there was 37,000 Welsh speakers in Cardiff and the festival not only promoted the capital as a bilingual city, but also brought an annual economic boost.
Menter Caerdydd met with cabinet member for finance Russell Goodway earlier this year, but Mrs Lewis described the meeting as “not very productive”.
Among the signatories of the letter are rugby commentator Huw Llywelyn Davies, the Archdruid Jim Parc Nest, musician Heather Jones and author Lowri Haf Cooke.
The letter states: “It concerns us that the council has adopted a position that does not build on the positive aspects of recent years and does not reflect the views of people towards the language.
“We therefore ask Cardiff council to re-establish its grant to Tafwyl and reverse its cuts to Menter Caerdydd so that a firm foundation can be set for our unique language in the nation’s capital.”
The letter was coordinated by the Cardiff branch of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.
Euros ap Hywel, of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said cabinet member for culture Huw Thomas had failed to respond to questions about the cuts.
He said: “Huw Thomas’ failure to respond to our letter shows the Welsh language isn’t a priority for the council.
“If he’s not willing to be polite enough to respond to letters about the situation, how can people trust the council?”
Yet Mr Thomas pointed to the “in kind support” and said the council was committed to seeing the festival continuing.
“The financial challenge facing the council in the coming years is unprecedented, but I feel our actions so far demonstrate our firm commitment to the Welsh Language,” he said.
“It is disingenuous to look at the Tafwyl funding in isolation, without also acknowledging what else has already been delivered.
“We will continue to work with third sector organisations to achieve our objectives and commitments to the Welsh Language, and I look forward to bringing forward further plans in due course.”