The organisation and background

Merthyr Tydfil Global Village (MTGV) was established in 2005. The festival developed through initial discussions that took place within the Multi Agency Diversity Forum (MADF) – a partnership of local statutory and voluntary organisations that meet to address issues of diversity and hate crime. Some of the key members of this forum wanted to develop an event that took their responsibilities and work in this area outside of their own organisations and that accomplished something tangible. This became especially important as the borough of Merthyr Tydfil became a destination for increased numbers of people moving from overseas. It was felt that an annual festival would help in bringing people together in a celebratory event that would serve to both educate the local population and welcome and inform newer residents. We were able to draw on Merthyr Tydfil’s rich history as a place where migrant workers have historically settled to work in the iron works, coal mines, coffee shops and restaurants and draw parallels with today. The festival uses food, music, dance, art and performance to celebrate the cultural diversity and heritage of Merthyr Tydfil.

MTGV comprises 4 trustees and 12 committee members. All members work for Global Village in a voluntary capacity and give up their time to be involved on the festival day. Many members of the MTGV steering group work at a grass roots level with the people of Merthyr Tydfil and are uniquely placed to gauge interest in this type of activity. Monthly meetings are held to plan and evaluate each event. In 2008 the date of the festival was changed to coincide with Adult Learners Week and we hold the Merthyr Tydfil / Niace Dysgu Cymru Learning Award Ceremony at the event. In 2010 MTGV gained charitable status.

As this website is being developed (2012) Global Village Festival has run for 9 years and each year we have carried out evaluation, using diverse methods, to gather interest and need for the continuation and development of the festival, which has grown each year. The last three years have seen us attract over 3,000 people to the festival. The festival allows individuals, community groups and others to work toward a common goal – the celebration of diversity – and at the same time broadens the cultural horizons of those involved.

Merthyr Tydfil – A New View

The Borough of Merthyr Tydfil features widely in both Welsh Government and UK Government statistics as one of the most deprived areas in Wales and the UK. Merthyr Tydfil is often depicted as downtrodden, depressing, poverty stricken and often features as one of the worst places in the UK to live.

Since 2005 we have seen a new wave of migration to Merthyr Tydfil when large numbers of people have come (mainly from Portugal, Poland, Thailand and the Philippines) to settle in the area and we have worked hard to show the community of Merthyr Tydfil the value of their input into the economy and community. Despite this, negative press reports about the south Wales valleys area continue to have a negative impact on the social consciousness of the community. The festival gives newer and longer-term residents of Merthyr the opportunity to get together and celebrate Merthyr’s proud heritage and future. It engages people in physical and art based activities and draws on Merthyr’s rich heritage, is an opportunity for people to learn from each other, foster community cohesion and show another side of the borough; providing an alternative view of Merthyr Tydfil.