Ymchwiliad i gwynion am safon beirniadu Eisteddfod yr Urdd. Current affairs programme Taro 9 investigates complaints about the standard of adjudicating in the Urdd Eisteddfod.
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Competing in eisteddfodau and getting on stage...
..is an important part of children's lives throughout Wales.
But there's been a call for basic changes to ensure fair play...
..for competitors in one of Wales's main festivals.
When you have problems with intonation...
..basic mistakes in the music and those children go through...
..then that's wrong.
Pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few in Wales.
If everybody goes on that bandwagon...
..you might as well say goodbye to the Urdd.
The Urdd is under fire.
Due to the subject matter and complaints...
..the movement refused us permission to film the eisteddfod.
We've found discontentment about the standard of adjudicators...
..and the police are investigating after competing went too far.
You hear about the letters people receive.
It scares me how many letters there are.
A Saturday morning on Anglesey.
The Eisteddfod Bro Llandegfan is about to start.
It's a big day for the competitors.
The next competition is the Year 2 Solo.
It's also a busy day for one of the adjudicators...
..they'll be trying to impress.
Is it going to be good? Who knows?
It's a very long day.
You start 12 hours of adjudicating in the morning.
You have to be focussing on the work and concentrating.
It is a responsibility in that you want to be fair...
..to each competitor as well being true to oneself.
Judging the competitors is the musician and choir leader...
To secure the expertise of adjudicators of his standard...
..organisers are willing to pay £100 or more.
We try to pay a respectable amount....
..in order to attract judges of a high standard.
I think that helps the competitors as they receive...
..constructive adjudication. It also attracts competitors.
An audience likes to see an adjudicator of a high standard...
..and if you have to pay to get them, then so be it.
But the same can't be said for every Urdd eisteddfod.
Because the fee is so low in some of them...
..Trystan Lewis declines the invitation.
When you receive £10 or £15 after a long day of adjudication...
..well, it's an insult.
I know several judges who no longer adjudicate.
As a result, we have inexperienced adjudicators...
..who maybe judge recitation one week cerdd dant the following week.
There isn't any expertise in that.
They can't be an expert in their field...
..or know about the pieces, so the competitors are wronged.
He says that usually happens at the beginning of the process...
..in the district eisteddfodau.
So many are held on the same weekend...
..a sizeable group of judges is needed.
Trystan Lewis says high competitor numbers means mistakes are made.
Basic errors are made during a district eisteddfod.
This piece, Y Pyped, for Years 5 and 6.
I heard in some district eisteddfodau of children...
..getting through despite with this piece despite singing a wrong note.
There is a C sharp and most of the children sang...
Then they went...
Rather than singing, "My master".
That's a basic thing.
It's a judge's opinion.
A cultural competition isn't like Usain Bolt...
..and first to cross the line.
In the arts, we look at how the person ran...
..not who arrived first.
One person's opinion differs from the next.
If a note is wrong, that child should be out of the competition.
It's the same in recitation, if a wrong word is said.
It's the same with being off-side in football. Rules are rules.
Llanuwchllyn and the founder of the Urdd is prominent here.
The National Eisteddfod is now an important part of the movement.
But Taro 9 has heard complaints of inconsistencies...
..in payments to judges.
In Ceredigion, they can be paid up to £100 a day.
In Arfon, the fee is £20.
But one judge has told us he hasn't received one penny.
Some adjudicators we've spoken to say this needs to change.
District eisteddfodau are organized by groups of volunteers...
..not the Urdd centrally.
As far as I can see, the Urdd Eisteddfod...
..nor the Urdd itself take little responsibility...
..for the district and regional eisteddfodau.
They don't seem to get any leadership by the Urdd.
I feel it's now time the Urdd set some sort of formal guidelines...
..for district and regional eisteddfodau...
..for a fee, a set amount, and expenses, so it's consistent.
Then they'll succeed, and I'm not talking about myself...
..to attract reputable adjudicators who know their stuff...
..and who will be fair with the competitors and the music.
Squeeze your cheeks and vibrato it.
The Urdd could attract people like this man.
A full-time musician who travels as far as Norway to adjudicate.
He's volunteered his time to coach local children...
..to compete in the Urdd...
.. but has never adjudicated for the Urdd due to the low fee.
As a country, we're lucky to have the Urdd.
But the Urdd wouldn't even consider...
..calling a plumber or a carpenter to work on the Maes...
..and expect them to do it for free. They're professionals.
If you want a job done properly, you have to pay for it.
I think it's exactly the same with adjudicators.
He says the lack of professionalism can be seen in some results.
You see it on an annual basis.
People these days say if you compare results...
..and someone's been wronged, they'll say...
.."Another result in the Urdd".
Somebody tends to look at the Urdd Eisteddfod now...
..as somewhere competitors are wronged.
People link that with the Urdd Eisteddfod and that says a lot.
This is where I've been since 8.15am this morning.
That's when I arrived.
Here we are - Recital 1, Room 12.
Not much glamour but this is the reality for judges.
The loneliest seat in the world.
The Powys Eisteddfod and a long day of competing ahead.
The adjudicator is a veteran with 30 years of experience.
For her, judging at Urdd Eisteddfodau is a chance...
..to repay thanks and the fee is acceptable.
You start a ball rolling.
Where will that ball stop?
Perhaps the next step will be teachers...
..who coach children for hours, asking for overtime.
Can I have double pay for coaching?
Eisteddfodau grow from the amateur tradition in the best sense...
..of the word. They grow from the people.
If somebody adjudicates at an eisteddfod...
..they shouldn't expect a professional fee, in my opinion.
I'm putting giving back to repay what I gained from eisteddfodau.
The confidence to appear on stage, the confidence to talk as I am now.
That's all down to the eisteddfodau.
This is my chance, for nearly 35 years, to give something back.
We've enquired right across Wales and it is apparent that...
..this is a sensitive issue.
Several people said they're reluctant to talk to us...
..as they're worried about criticizing the Urdd...
..and are worried their children may suffer in future eisteddfodau.
So how does the Urdd, Europe's largest cultural youth festival...
..compare with some of the other festivals in Britain?
Many belong to a federation that has an official list of judges.
The fee they suggest for a day's adjudicating is £200...
..compared with £20 a day for the Urdd Eisteddfod.
It survives and thrives on the benefit of the quality...
..of the services the festivals provide to the performers.
A very, very important part of that is the quality of the adjudicators.
Many, many festivals see that as the most important part...
..of the service they provide and are prepared to...
..you know, pay for that quality.
A music adjudicator at this year's National Eisteddfod...
..and a member of the federation says the same attitude...
..is needed in Wales. He used to adjudicate for the Urdd...
..but now refuses to do so, partly due to the fee.
The Government has placed such an emphasis on education...
..and that's our role as judges, to educate children and adults...
..on how to improve their craft.
And this is a good idea.
We are educating children about Welsh culture...
..whether it's recital or whatever the field...
..so give us more money to pay these people.
Give us money to show our appreciation...
..instead of saying we don't have any.
But the Urdd says this misinterprets their ethos.
They deny there's evidence that poor adjudicators...
..make bad decisions and that inconsistencies in fee payments...
..are a problem as plenty of judges are willing to volunteer.
It's a day of volunteering for the Urdd.
We don't reimburse anyone for missing out on their wages.
If somebody thinks that, they've misunderstood the role.
The cost varies.
Do you expect someone, say a vocal or reciting coach...
..to give up a day's work to come to you...
..for next to nothing as an adjudicator to support the Urdd?
Would you do that as senior officer of the Urdd?
Not for the Urdd but I have walked 200 miles for the Air Ambulance.
I do volunteer for other organizations.
But you have staff who are paid?
Yes, because they work for us.
For their skills and expertise.
That's why all people are employed.
But you could argue that adjudicators are skilled.
If we employed full-time adjudicators...
..for the Urdd Eisteddfod, we'd pay them a wage.
But that's not it.
Judges and everyone else volunteer for the Urdd.
But there are now concerns that adjudicators won't volunteer...
..for more sinister reasons -
..anonymous threatening letters.
This is so threatening to a young person...
..who puts so much into their music.
The Urdd National Eisteddfod in Boncath this year.
Taro 9 wasn't given a warm welcome.
We were investigating complaints that the Urdd's adjudication...
..undermines the competing and is unfair.
After originally agreeing to allow us to film at the Eisteddfod...
..for a fee of £350, things changed after we told them...
..what the programme was about.
We were hoping to go on to the Eisteddfod maes in Pembrokeshire...
..to get the views of visitors, competitors and adjudicators...
..on this issue.
However, the Urdd has refused to give us permission...
..to go in there because of the nature of the issue.
Why did you refuse to allow this programme to film...
..on the Eisteddfod maes this year in Boncath?
Because I don't feel it's a subject...
..that the nation is particularly interested in.
There are more important things to discuss, in my opinion.
The Urdd Eisteddfod is important, crucially important...
..and I'm paid to organise it, but at the end of the day...
..it's a competition.
Urgh, washing! Washing!
I don't want to wash. I like being like this.
To ensure the competition is fair...
..there are increasing calls for better rules...
..and for the dispute about payment to adjudicators...
..to be a catalyst for basic change.
I feel there is too much emphasis on the cream.
The district eisteddfod is very important.
That is where you win the battle with regard to the language.
And that is the essence of the Urdd.
Brian Morris has had a long association with the Urdd.
For decades, he coached children as a teacher and headmaster.
He's also been a recitation adjudicator.
This element of fairness...
..from the point of view of the child, the competitor, is crucial.
There's nothing worse, for example, than seeing a competitor come in...
..and a well-known coach or parent going down to the front...
..showing themselves in hope of gaining an advantage.
I feel, and this is one of the difficulties...
..that you shouldn't be allowed to adjudicate in your own district.
I've adjudicated in my district and seen a neighbour come in...
..with her two granddaughters, smiling at me.
There are pages of rules for the Urdd's list of competition pieces..
..but there is no rule about where someone can adjudicate.
We've heard examples of people adjudicating...
..a few miles from their home, near the school where they teach...
..and in one instance, someone was adjudicating...
..while their cousin's daughter was on stage.
If we are aware of problems, we obviously change things.
I also have to say that sometimes when there is a link...
..it works the other way and those people suffer...
..because they know the adjudicator.
So it works both ways. But we certainly don't want that.
However, any adjudicator who goes around local eisteddfodau...
..is going to know the children anyway...
..whether it's because of where they live or not.
We have small pool of adjudicators. We have to trust their integrity.
But not everyone is willing to do that.
We know about adjudicators...
..who have received anonymous threatening letters.
Following one regional eisteddfod this year...
..this music teacher received a letter questioning his ability.
He was also accused of having too close a connection with the area.
I don't agree at all with what was said in the letter...
..with regard to my professionalism, or any connection.
If that person knew me better, they would realise...
..that a lot of what they said were completely empty words.
They completely misunderstood the situation.
The letter refers to his connection with a vocal coach...
..who had several pupils competing.
I don't need any friend or person to show me favouritism.
It makes me angry. It really makes me angry.
"What on earth were you doing on Saturday?"
Listen to this.
"We considered contacting the press and the media...
.."but we as a group have decided to send it to you this time."
This time. So how many of these are going to arrive in the future?
Or how many have been in the past?
"We hope it will prick your conscience...
.."and that in time, you'll be able to live with yourself."
This is about adjudicating in an eisteddfod...
..and maybe because someone's child didn't reach the stage...
..or didn't win.
We talked to another adjudicator who wanted to remain anonymous...
..who received a series of nasty letters...
..some of them anonymous and threatening...
..that tried to persuade her to give up adjudicating.
We can reveal that North Wales Police are investigating...
..and that there are now calls for people to remain calm.
Wales is a small country.
It's difficult not to find connections.
What's happened has made me more determined...
..to support the Urdd and to go out and adjudicate.
If people like me decide not to adjudicate...
..in the end, it's going to affect the Urdd's ability...
..to find adjudicators.
From local eisteddfodau to the National Eisteddfod...
..adjudicating is a difficult job and the responsibility is huge.
To be selected on the British Federation of Festivals list...
..applicants have to go through a day of tests.
The selection day will entail the candidates...
..probably sitting in this very room...
..looking at DVDs of performances, coming in rapid succession.
They'll be required to prepare written adjudications...
..for those performances.
As soon as they've finished one, they move on to another one.
We're trying to emulate what would happen in a festival environment.
But Taro Naw knows of inexperienced adjudicators...
..who have adjudicated in an Urdd district eisteddfod...
..without any instructions or guidelines.
There are calls for more to be done to help adjudicators.
I've been in several prelims...
..where the adjudicator hasn't even looked at the child.
They've had their head down and they've been writing.
What kind of encouragement does that give the child?
And then the adjudication at the end is one line and no more.
Two, three, four, one.
One suggestion is to learn from the world of education...
..to help adjudicators do their work for their own sake...
..and the sake of the competitors.
When we have exams in the school system...
..we have to consider different factors like tone, accuracy...
..dynamics, pitch and so on.
Maybe the adjudicators should be given a checklist...
..so that they take a variety of things into account.
There are guidelines with regard to some elements of some competitions.
Breaking the rules...
..obviously, there are strict rules in the dancing competitions.
But with recital, it's up to the adjudicator...
..how he interprets the poem and that's it.
He or she is the adjudicator and we have to accept their opinion.
For many, the way forward is to co-operate...
..to transfer skills to the next generation.
The winner of the Llwyd o'r Bryn competition...
..at this year's National Eisteddfod...
..is being mentored by an experienced adjudicator...
..and shadowed at a district eisteddfod.
I've been mentored by Sian and it gave me that first step.
I think there should be a list somewhere...
..for the National Eisteddfod, the Urdd, local eisteddfodau.
I think the Urdd and the National Eisteddfod in August...
..could lead the way here.
You usually have two adjudicators in most of the competitions here.
There is one for the individual competitions in the Urdd.
But there's an opportunity to see the cream of Wales at its best...
..and give someone a shot.
It happens anyway. It happens on an informal level.
But it happens in the district eisteddfod.
If there is an experienced adjudicator...
..and an inexperienced one, you can see them...
But it's pure luck.
Maybe, but it does happen. If you want something formal, fine.
The district eisteddfod might not be the place to start...
..but in the local eisteddfodau.
The Urdd has been nurturing talent for almost a century.
Some say the challenge for the festival...
..is to ensure fairness in the future.
Everything develops and the Urdd has to move with the times.
Especially at a time when the language itself is fragile.
I think we need to sit down and discuss it.
But I don't think we'll resolve the issue...
..by banging the table...
..and screaming and shouting at each other.
If there's a huge exodus, then obviously...
..we'll look at the situation, but that isn't the situation.
One or two may feel that way, but that's life.
The Urdd can't ignore this any longer.
They can't say, "There's a bloke from Deganwy making a fuss."
The Urdd has to realise that people feel strongly about this...
..and it has to respond.
S4C subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
T9 sy’n ymchwilio i bryderon bod system beirniadu Eisteddfod yr Urdd yn arwain at anhegwch ac yn tanseilio’r cystadlu. A bydd y rhaglen hefyd yn dateglu bod y cythraul canu wedi mynd rhy bell – gan arwain at ymchwiliad heddlu ar ol i lythyrau sinistr di-enw gael eu gyrru at feirniaid eisteddfodol. T9 investigates concerns that the judging system for the Urdd Eisteddfod leads to unfairness and undermines the competition. The programme also discloses that the friction of competitiveness has gone too far – leading to a police investigation into sinister anonymous letters sent to eisteddfod judges.