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    09 September, 2007

    Rhondda Lives

    Three years ago, I had a short debate in the Assembly on the subject of Digital Content, when I argued we needed to do more to ensure that Wales Welsh-generated cultural content was more adequately represented on the internet in the broadband world. I called this 'Wales on demand' or 'Cymru yn ol y galw'. I mentioned then the terrific work that was being undertaken by many community organisations in Wales in training people in making digital media, such as Valleys Kids in the Rhondda, and also the pioneering work being undertaken by BBC Wales in digital story-telling and at the National Library in digitising their archives, including at their National Screen and Sound Archive.

    Shortly afterwards, I discussed with my old friend and former BBC colleague Aled Eirug how we could take this work forward. Aled was then looking at getting a national project funded, but I said what about a pilot based on a real community like the Rhondda. I spoke to Valleys Kids and set up a meeting with BBC Wales and the National Library in early 2005. Later that year after a series of meetings we had our first meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund as the possible funders.

    On Saturday, we launched the project, Rhondda Lives. The idea will be to encourage people to engage with some of the materials about the Rhondda available in the BBC wales archive and the National Library archive, and use these to create new materials. A project coordinator has been appointed and the project is now underway.

    Sometimes you throw project ideas out and wonder if they will ever come to fruition. I am delighted that this one has now started. Special thanks are due to Aled Eirug, formerly of the BBC, Gareth Morris, Karen Lewis, Gareth Morlais and Tim Neale of BBC Wales, Dafydd Pritchard of the National Library, and Margaret Jervis, Richard Morgan and Denise Lord of Valleys Kids. Thanks also to Jennifer Stewart of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the funders, who also spoke on Saturday. The picture shows Margaret Jervis introducing the event with Jennifer Stewart in the background.

    Many local people attended at Valleys' Kids Soar Centre and saw compilations of video clips put together by the BBC and the National Library. These included a short clip with the voice of the Rhondda novelist Gwyn Thomas, and a clip of the 1926 Ferndale Carnival. (I left the event later to go to the 2007 Ferndale Festival, where the Blaenllechau and Ferndale Archive project told me they had given the footage to the National Library!).

    The Assembly's Communities@One project is also supporting many local community projects in recording the stories of their community, as part of its remit to combat digital exclusion.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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