A new initiative to form a body to represent the interests of the Welsh brass band movement took its first significant step forward on the weekend.
The meeting took place in Cardiff, where those in attendance were joined by people online to discuss the need for a body that would work in partnership with existing representative structures and associations to help provide a vibrant and sustainable brass band movement throughout the nation at all levels.
The initiative was formulated by the respected freelance brass musician Andrew Jones and Graham Howe from Burry Port Band and was facilitated by Iwan Fox, Editor of 4BR.
Where to get to
A morning of discussion and opinion was centred on the current brass band landscape in Wales — from youth to elite level, as well as the challenges faced in establishing links to the education and arts sector, the need for greater community involvement, wider advocacy and investment in youth development.
There was also a discussion into where people felt they would like to see the brass band movement in Wales in a decade's time, as well as ideas on how it could be achieved.
The first step in the process was taken by deciding on a name for the fledgling organisation — Bandiau PrÃªs Cymru | Brass Bands Wales, with a small working group of nine people, led by Andrew Jones, set up to initiate progress on a framework, mission statement and aims and objectives.
A second proposed meeting (compliant with COVID-19 guidelines and legislation) with use of online technology was agreed for 24th October which will be held in Newtown, where it is hoped to widen the ground base of involvement.
There was a sense of realism that permeated the discussions — one that hopefully will enable a new body to access appropriate funding streams that can support the existing structures of brass banding throughout WalesAndrew Jones
Speaking to 4BR, Andrew said: "I think we made significant progress in just a short amount of time and there appears to be genuine enthusiasm and a desire to get this venture up and running.
There was a sense of realism that permeated the discussions — one that hopefully will enable a new body to access appropriate funding streams that can support the existing structures of brass banding throughout Wales — from individual bands to contest associations, youth to elite level.
The post COVID-19 landscape of the arts and community brass banding in Wales is going to be very different and exceptionally challenging, and Welsh banding must be in the position to be able to protect, develop and sustain itself."
He added: "The agreement was that partnership working will be key — from the education and arts sector in Wales to further afield — and by accepting that we can work and learn from other brass banding bodies that have been successful.
We cannot afford not to change — and this meeting was a small, but significant step forward to show that."