Saith Seren Welsh Language Center in Wrexham has been one of the cornerstones of Welsh language and culture in the border city since 2012. With Welsh events organised every week, the center hosts tens of artists each year, including local choirs and young performers.
Chris Evans, Chair of the center, is responsible for organising the events;
“I joined the Management Board after leading the local campaign to raise money to save the center in 2015. I took over as Chair in 2017, and a large part of my role is now to organise and promote Welsh gigs and evenings.
I’ve listened to Welsh music regularly since the 90’s, mainly through Radio Cymru. I’m a big fan of the greats like Meic Stevens, Dafydd Iwan and Bryn Fôn, and also the younger generation, such as Daniel Lloyd and Mr. Pink. But in recent years, I have been even more interested in Welsh rock, because I am now responsible for organizing Welsh gigs in Seven Seren.
I’m trying to provide a variety of evenings, from old favorites such as Bryn Fôn a’r Band, to exciting young bands like Gwilym. The giants like Dafydd Iwan will not play forever, so it’s nice to see some like Candelas set up themselves as the next generation of the great Welsh rock bands.”
The local language initiative, Menter Iaith Flint a Wrecsam, is very supportive of the centre’s work, organising regular social events there and also offering financial support at times for events such as the Fleur de Lys gig with support from Ffracas in May 2018 – which is aimed at attracting young people;
“I’m pleased to say that the Menter Iaith has agreed to work again to organise a gig with Gwilym and Ffracas in March. Menter Iaith Flint a Wrecsam are doing a great job with children, families and learners, and I’m glad they have agreed to help Saith Seren provide entertainment for young people.”
Gill Stephen, Chief Officer at Menter Iaith Fflint a Wrecsam, said;
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work regularly with the Saith Seren Center, which is a focal point for the Welsh language and culture in Wrexham. Music is a very important thing in the lives of children and young people and can influence the social circles in which they move and therefore their social use of Welsh. It is vital here in the north east where many of the children who receive Welsh-medium education come from non-Welsh speaking homes that they have enough opportunities to hear contemporary Welsh music. “
Saith Seren opened in 2012 following the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham in 2011. Chris explains;
“A group of people, led by Councilor Marc Jones, believed that there was a need to build on the increase in pride over the language in the area, and provide a focal point for Welsh social events. The Severn Stars pub was purchased by the Clwyd Alyn Housing Association to rent it to the Committee and ‘Saith Seren’ opened in January 2012.
We had some very successful evenings in the first few years, but all experiments didn’t work out, and by 2015 it was announced that it would close due to financial losses. The announcement triggered a campaign to try to raise money to save the center, and it was successful in gaining enough support to reverse the decision. Since 2015, Saith Seren has stabilised financially, and it’s busier than ever. I hope that Saith Seren will still be active for years to come for my three children to enjoy socialising in Welsh when they are adults.”
Chris has been a Biology and Psychology teacher at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd in Wrexham for over a quarter of a century and believes that more support is needed to promote and encourage Welsh language bands in North East Wales. He says;
“I’m really proud of the success of Daniel Lloyd, as I played a little part of his development as a teacher at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd. I’m also a former teacher and friend to ‘The Trials of Cato’, who record some Welsh songs. Having a successful young band from Wrexham or Mold would make a world of difference to the interest in Welsh for kids in the area.”
There are 19 gigs already scheduled for 2019 at the center with a wide variety such as choral, folk and rock nights.