Having got themselves established, Crime Cymru members asked themselves why, when England has a dozen crime fiction festivals, Scotland five and Northern Ireland one, Wales with all its creative heritage and various literary festivals had no festival dedicated (or should that be dead-ecated?) to crime fiction.
Meanwhile, the plot began to thicken…
Matt and Alis were invited to appear at Wales Week Berkshire where they met organiser Nellie Williams, who is also the brains behind the hugely successful Glanusk Show. Matt joined a book tour run by Dr Jackie Collins, also known as doyenne of crime fiction, Dr Noir, and founder of the Newcastle Noir festival. With these characters in place, a Crime Cymru festival working group was formed. Discussions became plans. Finally, when Matt and Alis were introduced to Lyndy Cooke, former organiser of the Hay Festival, it appeared the conspirators were all in place.
But as well as being ambitious, the working group were realistic. Prior to the ‘real world’ festival in 2022, we decided to hold Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol in 2021. This online festival both introduced Crime Cymru to the wider UK/global audience and provided a warmup act to the first Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival in 2022.
In an unexpected plot twist, however, things have had to change.
Just a few short weeks ago, we were confident of putting on a really good show for the Gwyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’re sorry to have to say that the arrival of the Omicron variant has changed things. It’s shown us what an effect each new variant can still have on the country.
Speaking to the Press Association recently, Wales’s chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton stated that Wales would need to respond rapidly to new variants of Covid as they arise. Though the full effects of the Omicron variant will hopefully have peaked and receded by the end of April, another new variant would potentially have an equally significant effect on public safety.
As a festival, our overriding priority must be the health and safety of everybody concerned: our speakers and festival goers, as well the people of Aberystwyth and the surrounding district. We’ve all seen the effects of the ‘pingdemic’ on businesses, the health service and young people’s education; Crime Cymru can’t, in all conscience, put those things at risk.
In addition, we’ve now been given updated details of the health and safety guidelines for our chosen venue for Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival ’22. Restricted audience numbers to comply with social distancing would mean significantly reduced audience numbers, impacting our business model. Even more importantly, we would be unable to offer our visiting authors the audiences they deserve.
So, in the manor of our crime busting heroes, we’ve made the tough choice and find a new route. We’ve taken the very difficult decision to run Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival on a digital platform this year and look forward to a vibrant and inclusive festival in Aberystwyth in 2023. We don’t know exactly how the 2022 online festival will look as yet, we are thinking of holding evening panels from Wednesday 27th to Friday 30th of April and Monday 2nd to Wednesday 4th of May, offering two events per evening, but the whole programme is under review. We still plan to support and publicise our members and their work, we are looking how best to do that, so we will be in touch with more positive news once we have a clearer view of things.
The festival working group would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of our aims, our community, and our festival and while we’re obviously very sad at having to make this change, of course, we are keen as ever to support crime writing, crime reading, and crime writers.