On Friday 22nd June 2012, some of the greatest academic minds working on Gypsy, Roma & Traveller issues gathered at City Hall, Cardiff. The whole day event was organised by Isaac Blake, Director of The Romani Cultural & Arts Company and focused in particular on the Romani communities within Europe and beyond.
The prestigious speakers from the political sphere, academia and the third sector challenged delegates to reflect upon the current situation and to think outside of the box to move the GRT agenda forward within their own contexts. Jane Hutt (Minister Of Finance for Welsh Government and Leader of the House at The Welsh Assembly) offered the Welsh perspective, whilst Dr Adrian Marsh (The Open Society Foundation) and Dr Ian Hancock (University of Texas) explored examples of the wider European concerns preparing the way for the free thinking needed for the dynamic afternoon workshops.
These workshops allowed delegates to investigate a theme in greater depth and developed a cross-discipline discussion on the plight of GRT and suggestions on plausible solutions. The Arts, Education and Health were all explored under the GRT umbrella and what became apparent throughout the day is that Wales is leading the way in innovative approaches to re-engaging the GRT community and formulating a new kind of inclusion. The collaboration of Isaac Blake with The Open Society Foundation, politicians and international organisations will be key in maintaining a high profile for GRT issues. Given the success of The National Symposium 2012, it is only set to grow and develop further for 2013.
Equalities Minister Jane Hutt said: “Gypsy and Traveller culture and heritage forms an important part of the diversity of Wales and this should be celebrated. The Symposium gave everyone the chance to discuss the needs and challenges Gypsies and Travellers face and to learn lessons from each other on ways to improve the quality of life for all Gypsies and Travellers. The Welsh Government published the first national Gypsy and Traveller action plan in the UK last September which showed how we want to make a real difference to people’s lives. We want to deliver equality and improve the quality of life for every person living in Wales. Whatever people’s race, faith or family background, they should have the same opportunities as everyone else”.
Ian Hancock – Professor of Linguistics – University of Texas at Austin says “ The 2012 Gypsy Roma and Traveller National Symposium has established the place of Wales even more firmly as a leader in recognizing these far-flung populations, their contributions and their distinctiveness. Europe’s future security will depend on multicultural harmony and cooperation, which means learning about each other. This event, organized by the Cardiff-based Romani Cultural and Arts Company for Wales’ fourth Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, promises to become an annual landmark”. Parikerav tut Wolshi, mishto kerdan! Diolch yn fawr Cymro, da iawn!
Please download the symposium presentations, photographs and delegate pack from the Romani Cultural & Arts Company website.
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