Awen Cultural Trust, the registered charity which provides opportunities for people and communities across South Wales to experience, enjoy and be inspired by culture, is working with Bridgend County Borough Council, Cardiff University, Contemporancient Theatre and Garw Valley Heritage Society on a series of events to mark the 300th anniversary of the famous intellectual Dr. Richard Price’s birth.

Described as “the greatest Welsh thinker of all time”, Price was born in Llangeinor near Bridgend on 23rd February 1723. Educated privately, then in Neath, near Cross Hands and Talgarth, he spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church near London. As well as being a political reformer and pamphleteer, Price was also active in radical, republican and liberal causes such as the French and American Revolutions. He was well-connected to many prominent figures including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

The ‘Price 300’ tercentenary celebrations will begin at 11am on Thursday 23rd February at the Richard Price Centre in Llangeinor with an exhibition, including a display from Tynyrheol Primary School, and morning of talks led by Garw Valley Heritage Society. There will be an actors’ reading from the new play ‘Price of Change’ from Contemporancient Theatre, which is due to be performed locally this autumn.

At 2pm that afternoon, a birthday party will be held in Price’s honour at the nearby Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall, where the official harpist to HRH the King, Alis Huws, will entertain all ages with an interactive concert on the traditional instrument of Wales. Vic Mills of Contemporancient Theatre will also explain how local communities can get involved in the production. There will be refreshments and a birthday cake for all to share, but possibly not 300 candles to blow out! Live Music Now harpist Alis will also take the celebrations to three local care homes over the 23rd and 24th February with a private concert for residents.

Throughout the February half-term, families are being invited to bring some colour and creativity to their streets by taking part in Awen’s Wonderful Windows project. Households are asked to decorate their windows using their own craft supplies, or craft packs which will be available to buy from libraries across Bridgend, with the theme of ‘Inspiring Wales’. The windows at Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall will feature a display of Price, created by the local community during free workshops to be held at the venue from 20 – 23 February.

Colleagues at Awen Libraries have also started working with Huw L Williams at Cardiff University on the content of educational packs activities, which will go to all schools in Bridgend county borough later this year.

As well as the tour of Contemporancient Theatre’s production ‘Price of Change’, other celebrations later this year will include a songwriting project with 12 pupils from Year 8 and 12 at Maesteg Comprehensive to coincide with International Women’s Day. Pupils will work on a new song with Welsh Americana/Folk singer/songwriter Lowri Evans, celebrating the connection Maesteg Town Hall has with the Suffragettes and learning how Richard Price supported the nation’s first feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft. Cinema screenings with talks at Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl will take place around American Independence Day and Bastille Day in July.

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen, said:

“Although starting life with humble roots, Price went on to make a significant contribution to moral philosophy, probability theory and natural theology, although his political arguments for individual freedom and democratic government are considered to be his most influential work. “Price and his legacy, remains unfamiliar to many in Wales, so what better time than the 300th anniversary of his birth nearby to raise the profile of this man who inspired so many. We are delighted to be working with our partner organisations to deliver a year-long programme of events and aimed at all ages.”

Mayor of Bridgend, Councillor Martyn Jones, added: “Noted as being ‘the greatest Welsh thinker of all time’, by historian John Davies, the Garw Valley community is extremely proud that Richard Price started life here in Llangeinor, over 300 years ago.

“In the valley, his legacy is marked by having a street named after him in the Bettws community, and we also have our Richard Price Community Centre, at Llangeinor. Price’s values and vision significantly shaped the modern world and recognition of his remarkable influence is embedded throughout the area.

“I look forward to seeing how household windows throughout the community will be illuminated to mark the celebration of Richard Price’s birthday, in connection with Awen’s Wonderful Windows project, with the theme of ‘inspiring Wales’. Price was most certainly an inspirational figure, and it’s wonderful to continue to be inspired by how he touched the world.”

[Image: The Portrait of Dr Richard Price, by the American painter Benjamin West from 1784. Copyright: National Library of Wales]