The term ‘crowdfunding’ may not have been around for much more than a decade, but the concept has been popular for far longer
Often associated with the internet, crowdfunding has developed into a world-wide phenomenon, used to pay for all manner of things.
But, organisations like the National Eisteddfod have been dependent on community fundraising for many years with the Local Fund campaign an integral part of the annual project. Therefore, it’s probably fair to say that the Eisteddfod was an ‘early adopter’ of the crowdfunding model.
With the Llŷn and Eifionydd Local Fund about to launch, towns and villages across the region, from Bangor to Boduan, are gearing up for a year and a half of community fundraising. So, we went trawling through the Eisteddfod archives to see how the organisation has benefitted from crowdfunding over the last century, starting with the 1925 Pwllheli National Eisteddfod.
1925 was the first time for the festival to be held in Pwllheli for half a century. The weather and transport problems had hampered organisers in 1875, and the festival failed to be a financial success. So, the pressure was on for Pwllheli to succeed fifty years later. By 1925, the modern day Eisteddfod was well established, with the practice of alternating between north and south Wales working well.
The Pwllheli National Eisteddfod Programme is a wealth of information. It offers a snapshot of Welsh life at the time, with lots of advertisements for all types of treats and services, and plenty of information for the keen Eisteddfodwr almost a century ago.
There’s a list of subscribers in the back of the programme. These people donated money so the festival could be held in Pwllheli. Over £3,250 – almost £200,000 in today’s money – was raised by subscribers of all kinds; some national companies and organisations, local businesses and individuals, and Eisteddfod supporters. And the largest donor of all was Mr FC Minoprio from Abersoch, who donated £250 to festival funds – over £15,000 in today’s money. He was a successful businessman who bought a piece of land in the Abersoch area and built a magnificent house, Haulfryn. He was also a firm believer in giving something back to the community, and apparently built the local primary school in Abersoch.
We have a few Lords, Sirs, Professors and Reverends on the list of subscribers as well as a few well-known names, including the White Star Line Company from Liverpool, owners of the large ships, who donated £10 to the fund, and Mr Pollecoff of Druid House, Pwllheli, the owner of the famous shop in the town, who gave £5.5s towards the Eisteddfod.
Locals had to wait another thirty years before the Eisteddfod returned to Pwllheli, and by 1955, the way activities and donations were recorded had developed greatly, and the long list in the back of the official programme looks more familiar to us today. When the programme went to press on 30 June 1955, the fund had reached £19,295.5s.4d – which is over half a million pounds in today’s money. What an achievement!
A bull calf (donated by Mr Ed. Gibby, Pembroke Dock) auction raised £120, over £3,000 today. And it’s obvious that whist nights were an excellent way of raising money in 1955, with most villages and appeal committees recording a healthy profit from whist drives during the year. Some villages were particularly successful, including Dinas, which raised almost £50 in profit, and Efailnewydd which recorded over £30 in profit from whist nights!
£24.1s.7d was raised at an ‘Ymryson Cŵn Defaid’ (Sheepdog Contest) in the Rhydyclafdy area, and £16.13s at a ‘Parti Selsig Ymwelwyr’ (Visitors’ Sausage Party) in Tudweiliog. Unfortunately, there are no more details about the party for visitors! And we also have no more details about the £6.15s raised in Garndolbenmaen at their Poultry &c Auction. But this profit helped the village to raise a total of £139.7s.4d towards the Local Fund. It would be good to know what was included in the ‘&c’ noted in the back of the programme!
The name of Yehudi Menuhin, the famous violinist, appears in the list of those who contributed towards the Pwllheli appeal committee, but we have no record of the size of the donation. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find this out and the reason why he contributed to the Pwllheli appeal?
And the Eisteddfod was again supported by the family of Mr FC Minoprio of Abersoch, the 1925 festival’s most generous donor thirty years earlier, with the Haulfryn Estate Co, donating £25 to the Local Fund.
It was Eifionydd, and the town of Cricieth’s turn to host the Eisteddfod in 1975. By now, the fundraising activities look far more similar to those we know so well today. The Local Fund raised £73,842, which is almost £615,000 in today’s money. This total includes contributions from the councils across Wales as well as the community fundraising at grassroots level.
Although whist drives still brought in the money, there was a new favourite in town – the sponsored walk – with 1970s fundraisers donning their walking boots to raise cash for the festival.
The Cricieth town contributions are interesting, with a number of activities organised by people who had moved to the area. The words ‘cyfeillion Seisnig’ (English friends) appear in brackets after all these activities in the programme, and it’s obvious the ‘friends’ were keen supporters, raising over £500 towards the town’s total.
Reading through the lists of activities over the years, the coffee evenings, concerts, treasure hunts and whist drives, the number of events in one area alone organised in support of the Eisteddfod is remarkable, and this, of course, continues today.
The effect of these events and activities is much more far-reaching than reaching the Local Fund target alone. These are activities in large and small communities which bring people together. It’s a chance to regenerate the social life of some areas over a two year period.
The activities don’t have to be large-scale or posh. The opportunity to come together with a cuppa and a slice of cake is often enough; a chance to share news and gossip with neighbours and friends. This is the essence of community, and one of the most important functions of the Eisteddfod Local Fund. Local people organising events in their community to celebrate the Eisteddfod’s visit. It works, and will continue to work looking to the future.
If you’d like to be part of the Local Fund for the 2021 Eisteddfod, get in touch. Ring 0845 4090 400, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go online, www.eisteddfod.wales.