Progress Report 2014

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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 5th 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:

Children-In-Need Project – 3rd Year Funding

In September 2013, the charity was awarded the 3rd year of three years funding (£95,000), delivered in three separate grants. The End-Of-2nd-Year Report has recently been submitted to Children-In-Need for review.

The project has continued to see ‘engagement’ workshops taking place now across four main Gypsy & Traveller sites. The aim has been to engage children and young people through arts-based cultural activities. The project has been very well attended by young people and has been successful in meeting the three main objectives set out for it.

The project was extended in 2013-2014 to include two additional sites so that more children could be reached. This has equalled a total of six sites in total over 2013-2014.

The charity has been awarded a further three years funding from BBC Children-In-Need, totalling £151,000. This will enable the project to continue, improve and grow over 2014-2017.

The enhanced project will be re-launched in Autumn 2014 and even more young people than before will benefit and get improved opportunities to engage and mix socially whilst learning new skills.

Jemma Wray, the National Head of Wales for BBC Children in Need said: “We are delighted to award further funding RCAC Gypsy & Traveller Arts Project.  This money will fund an Arts Development Worker to run a programme to engage with the children from within the Gypsy & Traveller community.  These art activities will help children and young people engage better within their communities, improve self-esteem and help them to make better informed life choices.

Jeff Cuthbert, Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, said: “The Welsh Government is working hard to bring Gypsy and Traveller sites up to a decent standard and to ensure that community members have equal access to services. Projects like the Romani Cultural and Arts Company will enhance the experience of living on these sites and help children and young people from these communities to fulfil their potential.”

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Month 2013

This year, we have co-ordinated a vastly reduced GRT History Month due to other commitments. We organised a ‘Design-a-postcard’ competition for schools and this was well-received. The winners have been announced with certificates and letters being posted.

We anticipate co-ordinating a full History Month Celebration in 2015 and will aim to make this an event every two years. This will enable the charity to build direct relationships with schools. We will try to avoid the local authorities whose EMTAS teams have shrunk to incapacity levels and are not always able to properly support nor facilitate effective partnerships between the charity and schools.

Cardiff Gypsy & Traveller Heritage project

The Romani Cultural & Arts Company has received £84,700 from Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting new project, Family Lines, Family Trails, in South Wales. Thanks to this second grant from the HLF, Isaac Blake and The Romani Cultural & Arts Company are able to continue their excellent work charting the stories and heritage of some prominent Gypsy and Traveller family lines throughout South Wales and beyond.

Beth Thomas, Keeper of History and Archaeology at St Fagans: National History Museum said “This is a welcome extension of an excellent project to record the histories of Welsh Gypsy and Traveller families and present them to the wider community. St Fagans is proud to provide a long-term home for these testimonies in the national collection”.

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are the largest Ethnic Minority community in the European Union with over 12 million people. In the UK, they are also a recognised ethnic minority community and number 300,000. They are also the most marginalised and continue to suffer extreme levels of prejudice and discrimination.

‘Family Lines, Family Trails’ will be 100% community-led and will focus on identifying, recording and gaining a better understanding of Gypsy and Traveller family heritage and culture. Through this, Isaac Blake would like to change the negative attitudes and behaviour of the wider public towards this marginalised group in society by ensuring that people can learn more about this hidden culture.

This is an exciting, innovative development of the current ‘Tales From The Trailer’ project, also supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. ‘Family Lines, Family Trails’ will see Gypsy and Traveller community members work alongside families to source photographs and other items that will become the stimuli for recording the dynamics of the Gypsy and Traveller family over the decades. The older the photographs, the better – as The Romani Cultural & Arts Company use the project as a mechanism for reconnecting distanced family members and build interesting links with the present and the past.

Jennifer Stewart, Head of HLF Wales said: “Communities are at the heart of the projects we support. This project will give Gypsy and Traveller community members the chance to raise awareness of their culture and heritage while exploring and sharing the history of family life in these communities. It is important that these memories are recorded now before they are lost forever and this will help create a rich archive for present and future generations to enjoy and learn from.”

OSF Funding secured for National GRT Symposium, Cardiff Bay, October 2014

The October 2014 “Great Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Debate” will bring together members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community with politicians, policy makers and public servants to address the issues that have become so prevalent in the past few years. Why are Roma from Eastern Europe coming to the UK? Who are they and how are they related to Gypsies and Travellers? How can our schools, hospitals and housing services work with these communities? The invited panel of experts will address these questions and others, in an “any questions” panel and discussion with the audience.

RCAC is hosting this event to provide an opportunity for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to express their views, in their own words while responding to the questions and concerns raised by service providers, local authority managers, teachers, health professionals and police officers. RCAC intends this debate to be the basis for a report to government that will better inform the EU National Roma Integration Strategy for Wales, to provide a better understanding between all communities and improve the dialogue between those that have a responsibility to deliver services and provision.

Roxanne Nazir said “The Open Society Initiative for Europe of the Open Society Foundations is very pleased to be supporting the 2014 Symposium. The Romani Cultural and Arts Company has a great reputation for its knowledge of the communities and for bringing these communities and stakeholders together.  This event will provide the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community with the space to express their concerns, change perceptions of the GRT communities and influence strategies going forwards. We very much look forward to the event.”

Dr. Ethel Brooks – 2011-2012 Fulbright Distinguished Chair, University of the Arts London said “The Romani Cultural and Arts Company has an outstanding record in artistic practice and community engagement, exemplified by its work with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities across Wales through arts and culture practice and education. The Symposium will provide a unique space for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community members to engage with politicians, academics, community advocates and policy makers to address the European Roma Integration Strategy and the work of the Welsh government in its implementation, along with other urgent questions facing our communities”.

Julie Morgan Assembly Member for Cardiff North said “I am delighted to speak at and support this years symposium.It is a wonderful opportunity for the different communities to come together to share experiences and give views to influence policy in this very important area”.

Additional Information Relating to the charity’s activities.

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.

In 2014, a  renowned, experienced and respected researcher reported on the high instance of NEETS (Not in education, employment or training) phenomenon within the GRT communities. This report will be a good springboard from which many organisations will be able to build on and use to support policy development.

In 2014, we also supported research funded by the European Union into the GRT Integration Strategy. The task of looking at what is happening to Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma in the UK and identifying policies than can work is a huge one. The project has community involvement at its heart, the NFGLG (National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups) is project managing the research and there is a team of community interviewers who will scrutinise with key stakeholders the draft report in the Westminster Parliament. Researchers at the University of Bristol (Sarah Cemlyn and Andrew Ryder) are also working with us.

The charity continues to naturally enable positive change to occur for the GRT communities of Cardiff (and beyond) by encouraging developments to begin ‘inside the community’ not ‘external’ to the community. The community members are offering their services to the charity and they are leading the development of projects. This year has seen several community members supporting research and volunteering on mini-projects. The charity is leading the way in raising the profile and confidence of women from GRT communities by creating opportunities for them to work in professional contexts.

This truly ensures that the service the charity provides 100% meets the needs of the community members, their families and their children. The charity is not seeking ‘quick-wins’. The charity is not seeking to grow for the sake of growing – the charity will grow because the community wishes it to become the principal organisation working with them and for them.

We are planning to develop a training and consultancy arm of the charity which will support the generating of unrestricted funds. We are also advertising the ‘hiring out’ of materials for the same purpose.