For 21+1 years, Trac Cymru has been working to ensure that the Welsh folk traditions can survive and thrive in future years by helping to develop new audiences for our country’s amazing musicians. This has included nurturing an international appetite for the unique flavour of the nation’s traditional music.
Wales may be a relatively small nation but Trac Cymru has worked hard to introduce Welsh artists to the four corners of the world – representing the country and its music at the highest-profile international events for folk and world music, and showcasing some of our best artists to the global music industry.
The charity has been part of the world music scene for almost twenty years now since first attending WOMEX (the World Music Expo) in 2005. Later, when this annual event was held in Cardiff in 2013, the international delegates flocked to Trac Cymru’s exhibition space, buzzing with enquiries about the music of the land they had come to visit.
Our international work is all about making connections and growing networks to help to sustain Welsh artists’ professional careers – for example, the United States and Canada have a potential audience that is over 100 times larger than within Wales and over the last decade we’ve enabled many diverse artists to gain a profile in this huge and sometimes overwhelming marketplace. Helping our national musicians to reach these vast new audiences is the reason why Trac Cymru attends global events such as the Folk Alliance International Conference, which hosts two thousand showcases over four days and attracts over 3,000 delegates who have come to find new and exciting traditional music from all over the world: agents, record labels, publicists, venues, festival organisers, and myriad support agencies.
The English Folk Expo (EFEx) is our nearest international folk music trade fair and each year it shines a special spotlight on one other country – in 2018 the international partner was Wales and Trac Cymru worked in collaboration with Wales Arts International and other partners to showcase four Welsh acts including Alaw, Gwyneth Glyn, 9Bach, and Catrin Finch with Seckou Keita. In every year at EFEx, our role is to make sure that neighbouring countries continually discover the excellent and ground-breaking traditional music developing within Wales, and prompt music industry professionals to book our acts for festivals, clubs, and arts centres across the UK.
Brexit has brought new difficulties to the lives of professional musicians who rely on touring abroad, but in response Trac Cymru has recently founded the European Folk Network (EFN) with a group of international colleagues to attempt to overcome some of these challenges. The EFN held its first conference in Budapest in 2021 and now has a membership of 138 music organisations and artists.
Danny KilBride, the director of Trac Cymru, talked about the charity’s mission to gain international audiences for Welsh artists: “We’re a small country with a huge voice, having a unique language, culture and musicality coupled with a powerful social conscience and passion for life that has earned us the title ‘Land of Song’. Songs are for sharing and our musicians can stand as equals on any stage in the world. Trac Cymru’s role is to make sure they get that opportunity.”
Our plans to celebrate the milestone 21st anniversary of Trac Cymru in 2021 were put on hold thanks to the coronavirus, but we have continued with our mission to support even more people to develop their own special connection to our amazing national music. Please support us by sharing these stories with your friends and colleagues, and join us in posting your own happy memories about Welsh folk music on social media #TRAC21, and you can help us fund our work by making a donation today.