Bringing together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots and traditional music, WOMEX is the highlight for the world music calendar. The showcase festival includes 7 stages, 700+ exhibiting companies, 80 speakers, films, an opening concert and an award ceremony across five packed days. Travelling all across Europe and now in its 25th year, WOMEX19 will be held in Tampere, Finland from 23-27 October and will host an Indigenous Conference programme for the first time ever.

This year Wales Arts International has awarded four bursaries to Welsh artists and organisations to enable them to visit WOMEX19. The two organisations supported are Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod, renowned for drawing performers from all around the world, and Neuadd Ogwen. Dilwyn Llwyd from Neuadd Ogwen has been at the forefront of bringing world acts to Bethesda, with the recent Ara Deg festival in September proving to be a success. We’re also proud to support musicians and composers to travel to WOMEX and showcase the best of Welsh folk music. This year the individual artists we have supported are Gareth Bonello, winner of The Welsh Music Prize, and the ever-prolific composer and performer Patrick Rimes (Calan,Pendevig and Vrï). Neal Thompson of Focus Wales has also been supported to attend through Focus Wales’s partnership with us. The wider delegation from Wales includes Cardigan based Theatr Mwldan, composer and producer Colin Bass, as well as WOMEX veterans, Trac.

Our presence with the Arts Council of Wales at WOMEX19, under the banner of Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales, will once again be in coordination with delegates from Scotland, England, Ireland and Northern Ireland through the Horizons partnership. First established at WOMEX13 when the event was hosted in Cardiff by Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales, Horizons ensures that individual talent can reach new, international markets by sharing resources, information and stages between nations. As well as having a trade stand and a strong delegation of Welsh music representatives, Wales Arts International and the Arts Council of Wales have prepared two playlists and a map of world music festivals taking place in Wales to entice other international delegates to Wales and highlight the wealth of opportunity we have here to international delegates.

2019 is the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages for which WOMEX19 will host an Indigenous conference programme. Head of Wales Arts International, Eluned Hâf will take part in a discussion on indigenous languages with delegates from New Zealand, Colombia and Norway. The panel will discuss how music can raise awareness on behalf of people who speak indigenous languages and create a pathway for non-speakers to appreciate the impact of linguistic diversity on our world’s cultural life. We have been working closely to support Welsh Government raise the profile of the Welsh language and international indigenous languages as part of the wider UNESCO year.

Trac Director, Danny Kilbride will also be chairing a Pan Indigenous Network meeting at the event as a chance to bring people together to learn from each other and seek collaborations to effect change through musical partnerships, cultural exchanges and interactions.

The Welsh presence at WOMEX19 continues with a showing of the BAFTA winning film Anorac, which documents Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens’s musical pilgrimage across Wales. Produced by music programme producer Gruffydd Davies, Anorac is his first feature documentary and includes a mesmerising soundtrack with Gwenno, Colorama and 9Bach to mention a few, who all opt for a minority language in their music over the industry’s anglophone default setting.

It promises to be a busy week!