Trac Cymru, Wales’ national folk arts organisation, is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its innovative new project, ‘Cân y Cymoedd: When Valleys Sing’. This three-year project aims to connect communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot with their local history and heritage while simultaneously exploring the rich traditions of Welsh folk music, inspiring the composition of new songs that narrate stories about contemporary life.
The development of ‘Cân y Cymoedd’ was based upon the highly successful ‘When Lancashire Sings’ project led by Lancashire County Council’s heritage learning team and intends to create a similarly inspirational experience for schools and community groups in South Wales.
As relatively new county boroughs that were heavily redefined by the reconfiguration of local authority principle areas in 1996, both Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot face the challenge of pulling together a unified sense of historic identity within their present-day borders. ‘Cân y Cymoedd’ seeks to address this by collaborating with a huge number of schools and community groups across the many different valleys over several years, providing new opportunities to delve into the heritage stories of their respective areas.
Assisted by a team of experienced creative specialists and volunteers, each of the groups will embark on an in-depth research journey. They will visit local heritage sites and be guided by historians from local museums who will help them uncover captivating tales and songs that are intrinsic to their local history. Working closely with talented traditional Welsh musicians, the participants will then channel their creativity to compose and perform new modern folk songs inspired by their research. These original compositions will be professionally recorded, culminating in a downloadable album and online resource, ensuring that the project’s impact extends far beyond the participating schools and communities, and making Welsh folk music more accessible to a broader range of audiences.
The first Rhondda Cynon Taf community taking part is the village of Ynysboeth in the Cynon Valley, where Trac Cymru will be working with both the local primary school and older residents based at the vibrant Feel Good Factory community centre. Nina Finnigan, administrator of the centre’s Listening Project programme, commented: “We are delighted to be involved in ‘When Valleys Sing’, Trac Cymru’s innovative new project which will bring to life the folk music, past and present, of our area. The Cynon Valley has a strong history of tradition and culture, and we are looking forward to using music to connect our communities across the generations.”
Another part of the project will be held in the village of Cwmgors in Neath Port Talbot, where Trac will work with the local community at the new Hwb y Gors arts centre that is being developed within the former primary school building by the community energy charity Awel Aman Tawe. Louise Griffiths, the engagement officer for Awen Aman Tawe, enthused: “Being able to offer our community the opportunity to be involved with the Trac Cymru project is so exciting. We live in an area of not only financial deprivation but also deprivation of opportunities. People either have to travel or miss out on so many cultural activities yet the desire and talent is abundant. This community has a rich heritage of traditional Welsh music and song, and it would be wonderful to see this thrive again with a new lease of modern life with all ages and abilities working together.”
Trac Cymru is grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Players for the generous support being given to this visionary project. Through ‘Cân y Cymoedd’, Trac Cymru and its partners aim to nurture a deeper appreciation for local history, heritage, and Welsh folk music traditions, rekindling a sense of cultural pride and belonging within the communities of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot.
1. Can y Cymoedd launch in Ynysboeth
(left to right) Garry Ford, Jane Piper, Sophie Herman, Nina Finnigan, Ava Robinson, Mariann Hooker, Sharon Hooker, Kathryn Miles, Glanville Willcox, Nigel Buckwell, Will Payne, Lee Thomas, and Simon Morris of Trac Cymru.
2. Can y Cymoedd launch in Cwmgors
(back row – left to right) Jordan Price Williams of Trac Cymru, Fiona Davies, Sarah Bowkett, Alison Davies, Anthony Goldworthy, Rhian Snowdon, and Morgan Thomas;
(front row – left to right) Eryl Thomas, Dewi Bowkett, Emily Hinshelwood, and Louise Griffiths.
About Trac Cymru:
Trac Cymru is Wales’ Folk Development organisation; it works to promote and develop the music and dance traditions of Wales, both within Wales and beyond.
Its focus is on celebrating Wales’ music and dance traditions, developing our performers from beginners to the international stage, stimulating interest, and making sure our traditional arts remain a relevant, core part of our vibrant cultural life and identity.
For more information about Trac Cymru or to arrange interviews and photographs, please contact Seren Ni Owain – firstname.lastname@example.org
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund:
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the largest dedicated funder of heritage projects in the United Kingdom. Supported by National Lottery players, it aims to inspire, lead, and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive change for people and communities, both now and in the future.