The Romani Cultural and Arts Company was formed in September 2009 as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (No. 07005660) and is a registered charity (No.1138150). Working through the arts the Company raises funds to take community development and educational projects onto Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites and into Gorjer and ‘country-folk’ communities across Wales.
We are a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community development organisation at heart. We are led by Gypsies and Travellers, we are about Gypsies and Travellers, we are for Gypsies and Travellers. We believe that the community can be developed to become fully accepted participants in mainstream society while still retaining their distinct culture and heritage.
RCAC as an organisation
The Romani Cultural Arts Company. is the leading Romani and Traveller community-based organisation in Wales, traditionally using the arts and culture as a vehicle for advocacy and empowerment, amongst the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. RCAC is also supporting individuals to become “Community Champions”, as actors and agents of change in their own communities, making a difference for themselves and the wider society. RCAC is managed by a Board (voluntary management committee) made up of representatives from the GRT communities, meaning that community members have a role as decision-makers and are part of the process of shaping the advocacy and rights agenda that RCAC promotes. The Company believes it is essential that the GRT communities be at the forefront of social progress and positive developments in social inclusion, in the struggle or the recognition of GRT rights and promoting inter-cultural understanding. Within Wales and increasingly across the UK, our advice and expertise is sought by local governments, policy-makers, decision-takers and local or national institutions. We are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of their policies and strategies or to support them in consultation to ensure the voice of the GRT communities they serve, is heard. We lead on advocacy for these vulnerable communities, influencing the policy and strategy agendas in the context of a devolved Welsh Government and increasingly internationally across the UK. Recently we have been able to:
- Influence the Welsh Government through a robust consultation process in relation to the drafting and implementation of a new Scrap Metal Act (UK) and Horses Act (Wales) that is likely to have a profound effect upon the GRT community;
- Support an EU project, led by Dr Andrew Ryder (Corvinus University, Budapest), to survey Welsh Gypsy, Roma and Traveller views on the current Welsh National Roma Integration Strategy, 2014-2020, for the EU;
- We have used funding to train individual GRT community members as key advocates who can influence developments affecting GRT communities in Wales – our “Community Champions” programme. These people have taken the lead in a variety of initiatives and advocacy activities at local and national levels;
- RCAC has managed funds from a local donor to research the NEETS (Not In Education, Employment or Training) phenomenon in relation to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Wales. We have commissioned a trained researcher to work alongside our Community Champions to examine the questions of early leaving (‘drop out’) from school and the significant differences in educational attainment, between the majority community and Gypsy, Roma, Traveller children and young adults.
Recent support of RCAC as an organisation
A recent report for the Arts Council Of Wales entitled Beyond the Stereotypes: A review of Gypsies/Roma/Travellers and the Arts in Wales acknowledged the impact of the work of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company and made a clear recommendation that organisations working for and within the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller communities should:
‘Team up with the Romani Cultural & Arts Company in addition to providing project funding.’
The report’s author stated that she:
‘has uncovered nothing but praise for Isaac Blake – his work is universally acknowledged by academics, Gypsies, Travellers, politicians, public bodies and international organisations. This is a unique Welsh-based company that should be supported in every possible way.’
Yvonne Cheal August 2012
‘Arts Council Of Wales has welcomed the report and is now considering the findings and recommendations.
Racism is born of ignorance, the Romani Cultural and Arts Company exists to promote a better understanding of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture within and beyond these communities.
The objects of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company set out the changes that we are trying to bring about to make the World a better place.
– To advance the education of the public in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture, in particular but not exclusively, by promoting arts-based community activities.
– The promotion of racial harmony for the public benefit by:
– promoting knowledge and mutual understanding between different racial groups.
– advancing education and raising awareness about different racial groups to promote good relation between persons of different racial groups.
Why is the work of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company needed?
The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is intended to overcome the ignorance and mythology relating to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people living in Wales, and to promote a greater sense of self-worth among members of a community who have largely internalised the racism that they experience.
Racism is widely recognised as anti-social, at least in most cases. However, there is plenty of evidence, in the everyday lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and in academic text, that racism against these people is still perceived as socially acceptable. The following quotes explain why and what affect this has:
Nearly 9 out of every 10 children and young people from a Gypsy background have suffered racial abuse and nearly two thirds have also been bullied or physically attacked…
This is who we are, – Children’s Society, 2007
Go to most museums, libraries and schools and nothing about their history and culture is kept or taught. The result is a widespread ignorance about who they are, which sometimes turns to hatred, fear and misunderstanding. In schools, children learn more about the Romans, Vikings or even fairies than they do about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultures and what they have contributed to this world. As a result they are misunderstood, feared and loathed…
GRTHM – www.grthm.co.uk
The two groups identified as the most threatening – asylum seekers and Travellers – were the only groups with whom most interviewees had had no contact…
Understanding Prejudice, Stonewall, 2004
The Welsh Assembly Government’s own report on the accommodation needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people (Niner, 2006) spoke of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people having ‘distinct demographic and economic characteristics’ and being one of the most socially excluded groups in Britain. It also spoke of the extent to which that social exclusion was reinforced by their experiences of discrimination.
They noted the tendency of the settled community to stereotype and lump all Gypsy-Travellers together, and felt that Gypsy-Travellers are the population group against whom it is still ‘acceptable’ to make racist remarks…
Accommodation Needs of Gypsy-Travellers in Wales, Niner, 2006
The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is a response to these experiences of racism.
‘Gorjer’ is the Roma term for a non-Gypsy while Travellers refer to non-Travellers as ‘country-folk’.