Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Rhodri Morgan's urges hit American shore

Welsh culture (and our First Minister) will make a huge splash in Washington DC for ten days starting today.

And 80 trade ambassadors will be there to drum up businesses for Wales. The nation will be taking centre stage as the featured country at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the US capitol. Sights and sounds of Wales will join African American oratory and Latin American music programmes as the main themes of this year’s festival.Wales will put on an exciting programme of activities to an expected million visitors, including concerts by Last Choir Standing winners Only Men Aloud and harpist Catrin Finch.

More than 150 poets, singers, musicians and craftsmen will be showcasing their crafts at a site portraying many aspects of Welsh cultural life, landscape and environment. An installation by Angharad Pearce Jones runs the length of the central festival walkway, and takes some of the more common textures and aesthetics of Wales to Washington - including dry stone walls, kissing gates and rugby posts. Visitors will also be able to sample food from Wales.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan, who will be representing Wales at the festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday, said:

No longer will Wales be Europe’s best kept secret. With so many ‘experts’ from Wales showcasing their talents at one of the world’s biggest cultural festival events, we have a unique opportunity to raise our profile in Washington and right across North America.

Visitors to the festival will be able to learn more about our traditional and contemporary cultures and we hope that inspires them to visit, study or invest here. To coincide with the festival, we are also taking the biggest trade mission to leave Wales over to the United States. Around 80 companies will be participating in the event with the aim of making contacts with American companies and winning new business.

Let's hope he leaves his urges at home.

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