The Welsh Parliament is proud to announce its programme of daily debates as part of the National Eisteddfod’s first ever virtual festival, called AmGen. Working with several leading organisations in Wales, the Senedd’s virtual sessions will bring together voices on varied topics in preparation for a big year for devolution, with the 2021 Senedd Elections on the horizon.
Among the topics discusses will be politics, improving representation and equality, devolution, climate change, journalism and the future after the pandemic. A discussion on each topic will take place every afternoon at 2.00pm from Monday to Saturday afternoon, 3-8 August.
The virtual sessions are open and free, with translation services available. They are hosted on Zoom by the National Eisteddfod and the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions.
One group that will be the focus of some attention next year is 16 and 17-year olds, who will be able to cast their vote for the first time in the 2021 Senedd Elections. A talk on Thursday 6 August, organised in partnership with Aberystwyth University, will include young people and the Llywydd of the Senedd to discuss how this new group of voters can be involved in the democratic process in a way that goes much further than a vote on polling day.
Llywydd, Elin Jones MS, will take part in the debate, with Welsh Youth Parliament member, Ifan Price, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg politics teacher Siôn Evans and the chair, Dr Elin Royles of Aberystwyth University's School of International Politics.
Elin Jones MS, Llywydd of the Senedd, said; “The significance of securing the right for 16 and 17-year olds to vote, in the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act, reaches way beyond the ability to cast a vote at an election. As well as persuading our young voters to exercise this right, we need to ensure that they contribute to democracy in a way that goes much further and influences decisions beyond the election period. If we are to succeed, we need to take their lead, and I look forward to participating in many talks and discussions with our young people over the coming months, as we prepare for an important year for our Senedd.
“Usually, at this time of year, we would be gearing up for a busy week on the Eisteddfod Maes, hosting talks at Pabell y Cymdeithasau (the Societies Tent). Although we will miss being at the Maes, we are in awe of the organisers’ perseverance and ingenuity in hosting the virtual AmGen festival, and we are delighted that the Senedd has a part to play in it.”
Equality, journalism, the economy, climate change and the arts
In the other daily sessions, journalism, equality, the economy, climate change and the arts will be discussed, with the effects of COVID-19 inevitably setting the tone for some of the discussions.
An event hosted with Race Council Cymru, on Wednesday 5 August, will examine equality in Wales and how to improve representation in all aspects of society. Participants will share personal stories and experiences of racism in society, and what needs to change now as we look to the future.
In conversation with the experienced BBC journalist and broadcaster Betsan Powys, we will examine the state of journalism in Wales and how our media and those across the border have reported on devolution during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event on Monday 3 August, is hosted in partnership with Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC) with two young aspiring journalists asking the questions: Llion Carbis, a Journalism and Communication Graduate; and Lois Campbell, Welsh Youth Parliament Member who plans to study Journalism and Welsh at Cardiff University in September.
The other sessions are presented by the Senedd in partnership with the Wales Governance Centre who will examine the impact of COVID-19 on the economy; a discussion on the future of our creative industries after the pandemic, with the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee; and the Welsh Youth Parliament will be asking who should take responsibility for turning the tide against climate change.
Open and free on Zoom
The Senedd’s AmGen festival sessions will take place at 2.00pm every afternoon, Monday to Saturday, 3 - 8 August. Each session is hosted on Zoom, and links will be posted on the National Eisteddfod’s website and shared on the Senedd’s social media accounts @SeneddWales.
Each event is open and free of charge, with a Welsh to English translation service available. Some of the sessions will give viewers the opportunity to participate and pose questions to the panellists. All debates will be available to watch again on demand.
The Senedd’s AmGen festival Timetable
Monday, 3 August 2.00
In conversation with Betsan Powys; Journalism, democracy and COVID-19
In partnership with Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Culture
A conversation with Betsan Powys, experienced BBC journalist and political commentator. This session will focus on journalism in Wales during COVID-19 and the awareness of devolution and democracy. Chairing the discussion is JOMEC lecturer Sian Lloyd, but the questions will be asked by two young students and future journalists: Llion Carbis, has just graduated with a First Class Honours in Journalism and Communications at Cardiff University. He currently works as a researcher on a project evaluating how the main UK broadcasters have reported on devolution and the lockdown measures during the pandemic; and Lois Campbell is a Welsh Youth Parliament Member who plans to study Journalism and Welsh at Cardiff University in September.
Tuesday, 4 August 2.00
Covid-19, the economy and the Welsh budget
In partnership with the Wales Governance Centre
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University has studied the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the Welsh budget. Laura McAllister will chair the discussion with researchers from the Finance Wales Analysis programme, Guto Ifan and Cian Tudur.
Wednesday, 5 August 2.00
Promoting racial equality in Wales
In partnership with the Race Council Cymru
A panel will talk about representation and racism by sharing personal experiences of equality and society in Wales, and discussing what steps need to be taken now to improve representation. Charing the discussion is Dr Marian Gwyn, Head of Heritage at Race Council Cymru.
Thursday, 6 August 2.00
More than a vote: young people and Welsh politics
In partnership with Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
16 and 17-year olds will be able to vote for the first time in the May 2021 Senedd Elections. The aim of this discussion is to consider how to ensure that young people take full advantage of their new right and can contribute to the democratic process in a way that will reach further than just casting a vote at election time.
Chaired by Dr Elin Royles, lecturer at Aberystwyth University’s Department of International Politics, with Llywydd of the Senedd Elin Jones MS, Ifan Price, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and an undergraduate at the Department of International Politics; and Sion Evans, a politics teacher at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.
Friday 7 August 2.00
The effect of COVID-19 on the arts in Wales
The Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee
Film and TV, live entertainment venues, public service broadcasters, talented performers and production crews; they are all vital to sustaining a thriving and flourishing creative industry. In a recent report looking at the impact of COVID-19, the Committee urged the Welsh Government to take urgent action to stabilise the creative industries, which are a jewel in Wales’ crown. The Chair of the Committee, Helen Mary Jones MS, will lead a discussion to delve deeper into the challenges and how the future of the arts in Wales can be secured. The panel includes the performer Carys Eleri and Clwb Ifor Bach Chief Executive, Guto Brychan.
Saturday 8 August 2.00
Climate Change, whose responsibility?
Welsh Youth Parliament
How can we tackle our dependency on single use plastic and reduce litter? Has the pandemic changed our behaviour and offered new ideas to reduce our impact on the climate? Should we focus on reducing plastic use instead of depending on recycling? Is education the key to saving our climate? There’s much to discuss, and endless ideas to share, in this session with the Welsh Youth Parliament as part of their inquiry looking at the problem of Littering and Plastic Waste.