Romani Cultural & Arts Co. (RCAC) has been organising professional, high-quality events since its very inception; the organisation was established in 2009 to produce the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month celebrations, presentations and performances by members of the communities at differing venues across south Wales. The following year, RCAC established the first Romani Studies academic conference, with Dr Adrian Marsh, researcher in Romani Studies, Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, delivering his inaugural lecture and workshop for RCAC (a partnership that continues to this day). The programme expanded to include Romani, Traveller and other children in a series of performances of dance, movement and speech; a major new dancework ‘Lavior’ choreographed by Isaac Blake; speeches from local worthies and dignitaries; an exhibition inspired by the RCAC Children’s Art competition and Romani artists; Welsh Traveller Education Service teachers and staff delivering arts and crafts workshops, and a Romani story-teller (a descendant of Abram Woods) telling tales from the Woods and other traditional fables.
Each year following, the annual GRT HM has developed further to include more workshops, more locations – the original events were centred around the Riverside Arts Centre in Newport, but moved to St David’s Hall, the national theatre of Wales after a few years – and a broader range of activities, experts, artists and performers, with greater numbers of schools and school-teachers involved across the region. Additionally, the GRT National Symposia (2012 to 2017) brought world-class Romani and Traveller experts, academics and activists to Cardiff City Hall, including Prof. Ian Hancock from University of Texas at Austin; Prof. Thomas Acton from University of Greenwich, London; Prof. Ethel Brooks from Rutgers University, New Jersey; Dr Miroslav Sklenka from Skola Dokoran in Slovakia; Dr Sarah Klaus from OSF in London, and many others into a dialogue with Welsh ministers and AM’s such as Jane Hutt, Vaughan Gething, Julie Morgan, and professionals from a wide variety of statutory and voluntary sector service providers in Wales and England.
RCAC’s dynamic programme of Romani and Traveller-related events has become more diverse in recent years, reflecting a broader section of the communities with the recent conference on LGBTQI+ Romani and Traveller people, held in Cardiff (before the pandemic) and the online archive of stories from LGBTQI+ people in the Romani and Traveller communities. Collaboration with leading arts organisations in Wales, such as g39 (Cardiff) and the Taliesin Arts Centre (Swansea), have led to events promoting Romani and Traveller artists and academics, such Dr Daniel Baker, Shamus McPhee, Delaine Le Bas, and Artur Conka and engage with Europe-wide projects such as the digital museum of the Romani people, RomArchive (www.romarchive.eu). RCAC will continue to curate and present extraordinary events into the future, celebrating and affirming the genius that are Romani and Traveller arts, artists and cultures.