Progress Report 2011

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The Romani Cultural and Arts Company Ltd

Aka Romani Arts

Summary of the main achievements of the charity during the year.

The Charity’s 2nd year has seen significant development in the integration of communities along with a host of successful achievements that have been instrumental in driving the overall message forward.

These specific activities are:

Cardiff Schools Programme – Further Development

The previous years anti-bullying project, focussing on “Identity” has continued this year. The success of the workshops within 4 local primary schools has prompted great interest from schools in Llanelli, Newport, Merthyr, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Pembrokeshire and Swansea who wish also which to participate in the work. These regions also have a heritage of GRT involvement and are keen to explore more awareness projects to assist in the understanding and education of the culture of the GRT Community.

Newport Schools Residency – Further Development

Following on from last years successful workshops with Gwent Education Multi-ethnic Service (GEMS), we have continued the theme this year under a project entitled “A Suitcase Full of Shoes”. This activity involved the integrated input of children from GRT and Non-GRT communities to train and work together to produce a theatre performance involving movement, drama and music which was performed at the 2011 Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month. Supporting this event were tutors from the College of Music and Drama along with Isaac Blake, Director of the Romani Arts. Once again this was held at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre. This year also saw the involvement of parents from both communities during the rehersal stages held at the local YMCA. Once again, we have seen a positive impact from previous activities that are now growing due to increased awareness and greater participation throughout communities and families.

Shirenewton Residency (Cardiff) – Further Development 

This year, we focussed on 2 major activities.

The first was based around animation. Funding from the BBC Children in Need allowed us to engage professional animators from BAFTA Award Winning company – Cinetig Production.

We grouped together over 36 children and elders from both the Rover Way and Shirenewton sites to work with the animators on the subject of Inter-Generation. This involved the sharing of stories and experiences of GRT people. The children were involved in finding out of their elders stories through interviews and group discussions. Working with the animation team put together story boards and assisted and learnt animation techniques.

The project resulted in a Film called “Gypsy Ways” which was shown at the GRT History month Gala Event in June 2011.

It uses a combination of animation and live-action to follow the reminiscences of Laurel Price as she recalls growing up in a traditional Vardo and her life on Leckwith Common in Cardiff in the 1970′s before setting on the permanent site of Rover Way in the docklands of Cardiff.

The event and production caught the interest of His Excellancy Mr Eduards Stiprais – Latvian Embassador to the UK who visited the Shirenewton Site and attended the screening of the film.

The second project, held exclusively at the Shirenewton Site focussed on “Hip-Hop”. The aim of the project was to reduce isolation and raise aspirations of GRT children within this community. This second year activity demonstrated continuity and consistent involvement with the people at this location. We paired a Irish Traveller Hip-Hop dancer and a non GRT artist together to deliver a workshop that involved children from the site to produce a dance piece they ultimately performed at the History month. This fun activity provided an outlet which supported each individuals self-worth and “can-do” approach to life and future aspirations.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Month 2011

This financial year we have, as planned delivered/coordinated and extended the already successful Traveller Month of 2010 to the regions of Llanelli, Wrexham, Cardiff, Newport and Torfaen. The six month preparation results in a month of activities based both on-site and through various theatre and art centres throughout South and North Wales.

Each region had their own specific programme:

South Wales

“Gypsy Ways” Animated Movie (see above)

“NoFit State” Circus activities

Academic Lecture by Dr Adrian March and Dr Thomas Acton of Grenwich University to Education Professional about Romani rights, history and culture

“A Suitcase Full of Shoes” Dramatic performance (see above)

“Design a Poster Competition” – open to Primary School children throughout the region, the children were encouraged to create an artwork that would depict a positive view of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The winner was announced at the 2011 History Month Gala. One of the judges was Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas – Presiding Officer for the Welsh Assembly.

West Wales

One day event covering crafts, activities and competitions. The first project in this region which had speeches from Assembly Ministers and story telling workshops by local GRT residents

North Wales

The first ever event held in Wrexham attracted over 100 visitors to the event in Belle Vue Park. Displays of dancing, arts & crafts and cooking demonstrations. Officially opened by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wrexham.

Throughout all regions, children and adults alike have identified a growing sense of acceptance within their local communities. Education and awareness programmes cultivated over the six month preparations have resulted in a greater spread of regions and people attending the History Month. These annual events continue to further enhance awareness of GRT culture, break down pre-conceived conceptions and encourage a positive environment for GRT people to express their heritage, individualism and importance in local communities.

Cardiff Gypsy & Traveller Heritage project

Remembering the past and Recording the present .

“The day to day life of the Gypsy & Traveller community in Cardiff”.

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is delighted to secure a grant of £48,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This exciting and innovative project will use new media techniques to record and document the cultures of 2 very different Gypsy and Traveller (GT)communities across their sites in Cardiff, and provide a unique new digital platform for the creation of a touring multi-media exhibition to preserve and promote this culture both to the Gypsy and Traveller communities throughout Wales and also to the “settled” community nationally.There have been many documentations of the GT heritage and culture, however, these have been written by academics outside of the community itself. This project from start to finish will be steered and led by the GT community to ensure a true representation of the Cardiff GT community it’s values, beliefs and realities.

In addition to the above activities of The Romani Cultural & Arts Company, we have been significantly involved in numerous activities and policies to support the development of work that has already generated vast interest and inspiration throughout all communities in the ultimate aim of reaching integrated harmony between the variant cultural differences.