Following on from an incredibly successful event last year Newport’s Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre becomes the main focus for the annual celebration of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture in Wales in 2011.
The annual celebration on (30th June 2011 from 10am-3pm) is designed to raise awareness of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture and to challenge some of the myths that are commonly held about these people who have been part of Wales’ scenery for perhaps 500 years. Isaac Blake, organiser of the event and Director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company says “It is sad that relationships between Gypsy and Gorger communities (non-Gypsies) are so strained where once they would have been quite relaxed. I think that much of it is related to ignorance and the point of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is to challenge that ignorance”.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is also a celebration and the organisers promise that they will match the challenge with plenty of fun and a genuine celebration of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture. Preparations for the main event in Newport will be the culmination of months of preparation by young people. One of the growing number of traditions associated with the celebration is the promotion of the event with artwork created by schools from Cardiff, Newport and new this year, Torfaen.
Local youngsters will also be taking part in a special workshop run by anti-racist charity, Show Racism the Red Card. Ex professional footballers Leroy Rosenior and Christian Roberts will be talking to young people about Racism in their community and how to stop it as well as running a number of hands on ‘critical thinking’ activities. Education Coordinator Simon Richards says it should be a great day ‘Show Racism the Red Card are proud to be taking part in this fantastic event and really feel that it can be hugely beneficial to the young people taking part’.
An event for all ages and all tastes combines history and art, theatre and dance, children’s and adult performances designed to challenge, teach and CELEBRATE!
Younger children will explore GRT tradition through Vardo (Waggon) painting workshops and traditional storytelling.
A mixed group of young people from Newport will be showcasing a performance put together in a week long residency with professional musicians, dancers and actors. While young Gypsies and Travellers from Cardiff’s Shirenewton site will be presenting their own animated film put together with support from BAFTA winning animation company Cinetig.
The young people’s work will appear alongside that of contemporary dance choreographer Isaac Blake’s new production ‘Coin si deya? Coin se dado?’ set in both dream and consciousness as metaphors for the romantic image.
Following last year’s participation for the first time, Dr Adrian Marsh will be joining us again from Istanbul, to bring a European wide perspective on the situation of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in locations from Istanbul to Invergordon, Stockholm to Southampton and Çannakale to Cardiff. We anticipate another challenging presentation on the topic of Romani rights, history and cultures.
The event will be drawn to a close by Lord Dafydd Ellis-Thomas, former Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly.
Lord Dafydd Ellis-Thomas, former Presiding Officer said “Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is a great opportunity to strengthen a sense of cultural pride. I am very proud to be involved in the celebration of this diverse and vibrant community in Wales, and I am very much looking forward to the seeing the performances and artwork that have been produced. I will be co-judging the poster competition and having seen the winning posters from last year’s competition I am expecting some excellent entries.”
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