2009 CYFRWNG CONFERENCE
Conference Programme [PDF]
The 2009 Cyfrwng Conference was hosted by BBC Cymru Wales at their Broadcasting Centre in Llandaff, Cardiff on the 7 and 8 of May, 2009. The conference theme was 'Audiences' and an array of speakers, papers and panels examined a range of aspects of media audiences in Wales. The event attracted over 120 delegates from academia and industry who participated in a variety of panels over two days.
The conference proceedings opened with a welcome address from John Hefin, the Cyfrwng Chairman and Keith Jones representing BBC Cymru Wales. A range of sessions followed designed to assess and explore some key issues facing academics, practitioners and the media industry with regards to changing audience needs. The day's events culminated with a keynote address by Assembly Minister Alun Ffred Jones, the Minister for Heritage.
Speakers on the opening day included Judith Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Wales Millennium Centre; Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian and Swansea University; Mandy Rose, BBC Cymru Wales; Carolyn Hitt, Presentable; Simon Popple, University of Leeds; Heike Roms, Aberystwyth University; Keith Towler, Children's Commissioner for Wales; John McGrath, National Theatre Wales; Tony Jordan, Red Planet and Nia Ceidiog, Ceidiog Productions.
Discussions covered included issues surrounding archiving audio-visual material and the importance of bringing together academics and industry to secure the future of valuable sources and collections. Another panel discussion focused on children's media, and children as audience members, alongside the ways in which children can create their own media content. This lively debate and discussion featured participation from industry professionals from companies such as First Light Movies, Headliners, Film 15, WISE KIDS, and Valleys Kids, as well as representatives from BBC Cymru Wales, S4C, Cardiff University, Clwyd Theatr Cymru and Arad Goch.
A further session featured an interesting debate over the importance of the global media market, particularly in television, and issues faced when exporting Welsh media to the international market. The session on Theatre and Performance Audiences was also a success, featuring panellists from theatre companies and academe who discussed the challenges currently facing theatre and performance companies and the new ways in which they are addressing these issues.
The first day of the conference came to an end with the Cyfrwng Conference Dinner at which the Cyfrwng 2009 Award was presented to Professor Elan Closs Stephens, CBE in celebration of her exceptional contribution to media in Wales. Professor Stephens's contribution to the promotion of media and the arts both in higher education and the industry has been exemplary and Cyfrwng delegates relished the opportunity to express their recognition and gratitude. The dinner, held at the Park Plaza Hotel in Cardiff, also provided delegates with an opportunity to discuss many of the issues raised throughout the day in a more informal setting.
The second day of the conference opened with a keynote address from Menna Richards, Director of BBC Cymru Wales which concluded with a preview of the Torchwood: Children of Earth series, demonstrating her points about the ambition and scope of BBC Wales' television output. A subsequent panel on researching and measuring audiences in the multiplatform era examined the impact of new media technologies on audiences and how this has changed the ways in which they seek out and engage with media texts. Following lunch, a lively and polemic debate on Regulation and Accountability took place, with the Institute of Ideas' Claire Fox arguing against Ofcom's current definitions of 'offence' and the notion of an imagined offended audience which they need to protect. A rebuttal from fellow panellist Hywel William from Ofcom set the tone for a spirited discussion, with contributions from esteemed academics Sylvia Harvey and Dave Rushton.
The final panel session was equally lively, focusing on 'The Future of News in Wales'. Representatives from S4C, ITV Wales, BBC Cymru Wales, NUJ and Media Wales participated in the debate, along with Assembly Minister Alun Davies. This session reflected the conference's desire to make plurality of news a key aspect for discussion, and it featured vigorous debate over how to respond within an economic and industry environment which is, in many quarters, reducing the resources available for news broadcasting.
The conference closed with a session designed for delegates to respond to the many issues raised over the two days and to ask questions and make comments. Such an opportunity for the audience to 'bite back', valiantly chaired by John Geraint from Green Bay Media in his own inimitable and witty way, was a fitting end to an event which had sought to place audiences within Wales at the centre of its discussions and which had, once again, successfully brought together scholarly voices and industry professionals to debate these crucial issues.
The Cyfrwng Management Committee wish to thank all the conference sponsors for their support, with particular thanks to BBC Cymru Wales for hosting the event. We also wish to thank the delegates for attending and for contributing to a productive and lively conference.
The next Cyfrwng Conference will take place at Trinity University College, Carmarthen on 5-7 May 2010.