Neon Caerdydd Photo by Ryan Everett on Unsplash

Croeso i Gymru, Welcome to Wales

BEYOND is delighted to announce Cardiff as our home for the 2022 conference and to share reflections from Professor Justin Lewis, Director at Clwstwr, on this year’s conference theme and how Cardiff is leading the charge for a more sustainable and inclusive creative economy.

Croeso i Gymru, welcome to Wales, the world’s first industrial nation, a place where industry eclipsed agriculture more than 170 years ago. 

First, some numbers to help you get your bearings. By the early 19th century, South Wales was the world’s biggest producer of iron. By the early 20th, a third of the world’s coal was mined in Wales, and Cardiff, the busiest coal port on the planet, was transformed from one of its smallest towns to its largest. In 1904, the world’s first million pound cheque was signed in Cardiff’s coal exchange.

In Wales, cynefin means a sense of place – its history and identity, its landscape, statues and street names. In South Wales, our cynefin has long been defined by mining, metal manufacture and Methodist nonconformity. But most of that has gone now. The mines are closed, many of the chapels are empty and less than 10% of Welsh jobs are in manufacturing.

But there is another history. Bubbling up from its bucolic, scarred landscape is the Wales of the Mabinogion and the Eisteddfod, of Ivor Novello and Roald Dahl, Jan Morris and the Manic Street Preachers, Dylan and RS Thomas, Catatonia and Charlotte Church, Richard Burton and Shirley Bassey. In 1897, 2 miles west of Cardiff Bay, Guglielmo Marconi sent out the first ever radio message, an audible sign of a different kind of future – one that would have voices and storytellers at its heart.

Some more numbers. Today, more than 15% of Cardiff’s enterprises are in the creative industries. South Wales has more TV studios than anywhere in the UK outside London, and is the UK’s 3rd largest film and TV industry employer (after London and Manchester). This is our new cynefin: a place where economic activity comes with wit, heart and soul. We are therefore delighted to welcome Beyond to Cardiff: we’re sure you’ll fit right in. 

This year’s conference takes its lead from another Welsh first – the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. It’s a simple idea: everything the Government does should be mindful of – and geared towards – the health and happiness of generations to come. Yet turning that into purposeful policy – for a more sustainable and inclusive creative economy – is more difficult. 

A central theme of Beyond 2022 is to try and imagine what that could – and should – look like. A future where technology serves not just a market need but a social and cultural purpose. 

And we’re delighted to be Unboxing Galwad at BEYOND: imagining a future thirty years from now that builds on the spirit of the Future Generations Act, exploring both its possibilities and its moral dilemmas. This very practical imagining is built into our work at Clwstwr: working with BAFTA albert and Ffilm Cymru, we’re aiming to put Wales at the vanguard of a green new deal for screen.

So do come and join us in the Welsh capital for what will be a memorable trip into the Beyond: beyond carbon, beyond boundaries and beyond the turgid limits of business as usual. Ymlaen!

This article is also available to read in Welsh here.