Academi Gymreig. English-language section

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Academi Gymreig. English-language section

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Yr Academi Gymreig's first tentative steps towards collaboration with Anglo-Welsh writers were taken in 1962 following a suggestion by Emyr Humphreys that six of them be invited to the 1962 Academi Gymreig's September Conference for dinner and discussion. The writers were to be R. S. Thomas, Glyn Jones, Vernon Watkins, Jack Jones and Idris Parry. R. S. Thomas and Glyn Jones were also invited to the conference to talk about the significance of Wales to them as writers. Two years later, in 1964, Glyn Jones was invited to become a member of the Academi. Although he did not accept the invitation, it was another sign of the Academi's growing recognition of the work of Anglo-Welsh writers.

Events leading to the formation of the English Language Section were set in motion in a business meeting of Yr Academi Gymreig in March 1968 when Meic Stephens, who was attending as the Associate Director of the Welsh Arts Council, raised the issue on behalf of writers in Wales who were writing in English. Impetus had also been provided by a meeting of the Guild of Welsh Writers in London in November of the previous year. In the March Academi meeting, members accepted in principle, the establishment of an English Language Section of the Academi. A meeting between Yr Academi Gymreig and the Anglo-Welsh writers was held on 10 April 1968 and the existing members were reassured that the new Section would not interfere with the Welsh nature of their society especially regarding the use of language. The name 'Yr Academi Gymreig' would represent the whole society, with both sections adopting sub-titles. The Anglo-Welsh members therefore become part of Yr Academi Gymreig - The English Language Section.

The first official meeting of the English Language Section was held in Cardiff on 15 June 1968 with approximately thirty writers present. Jack Jones became the first President of the Section and Glyn Jones its first Chairman. During the following years, the section's only funding came from the susbscriptions of the forty-five or so members. Conferences and meetings were undertaken for members mainly thanks to the organisational skills of Sally Roberts Jones, secretary of the section, and Alison Bielski who held the post of joint secretary with Sally Roberts Jones for a time.

In 1971, the Section received its first grant from the Welsh Arts Council, which allowed it to organise a wider range of activities including weekend schools where lectures were given by a number of prominent writers including Glyn Jones and Gwyn Williams. The grants provided by the Welsh Arts Council rose steadily and in 1974, following a substantial increase in funding, the Section was able to appoint part time staff. Pamela Parry-Jones was appointed Adminstrative Secretary and for the first time, an Exectuive Committee was formed to supervise the planning and administration of Academi affairs and events.

In 1978, the Enlgish Language Section became constitutionally independent and received charitable status. In 1979, a broader base of membership was created through an associate membership scheme.

Following these changes, many projects were undertaken by the English Language Section included the Cardiff Literature Festival, writers workshops and an annual conference. The Section has been responsible for publications including the Anglo-Welsh Review, Companion to the Literature of Wales as well as a series of reprints of Anglo-Welsh books. Competitions such as the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the Young Writer's Competion are also arranged by the section.

Since 1998, the role of the Academi has changed, following its being awarded a franchise, from the Arts Council of Wales, to establish a Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency.

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