Founded over a decade ago, in 2009, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company has been promoting the rights and social inclusion of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities and individuals, through the arts and performance, to empower the Romani and Traveller communities, building confidence and competences across genders and generations. The organisation began as a community-generated initiative to address the significant gap in Wales for a genuinely Romani and Traveller managed, run, and operated Third Sector organisation, that fully and confidently represented the interests and aspirations of Romani and Traveller folk. From small beginnings as organisers of the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month celebrations in Newport, Swansea and the capital, Cardiff, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company has grown exponentially to become the largest, most active, and effective voluntary organisation from the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities in Wales. Delivering a wide range of activities and programmes, funded by the BBC Children in Need Appeal, the National Lottery Community Fund, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, from children’s arts and crafts workshops, women’s health and wellness programmes, to nature projects that “re-wild” Romani people, many of whom have become detached, through increasing isolation from the countryside due to being ‘encamped’ in over-crowded caravan sites or homes, from the natural world.
Romani Cultural & Arts Company has also delivered world-class arts and performance initiatives and exhibitions, in major galleries and arts venues across the country, featuring artists and work that would otherwise remain inaccessible to the majority of visitors. ‘Mainstreaming’ Romani arts, in all its forms and expressions, is one of the key ‘missions’ of the organisation. Demanding attention for sorely neglected areas of arts and knowledge production that have been previously treated as aspects of ‘naïve’, or ‘folkloristic’ arts, or relegated to the ‘subjective’ and intrusive giorgio (non-Gypsy) gaze, one that disempowers as it ‘strips’ the ‘object’ of reality and converts it into stereotype, or misrepresentation, is uppermost. The pervious romanticism and sensualist approaches of British artists who have use Romani and Traveller people as models, or (unacknowledged) inspiration, have been challenged by the Romani arts practitioners who have been represented in the Gypsy Maker programme over the previous decade; artists who offer a Romani ‘gaze’ that looks back at the viewer in a complex, transformative dialogue, refusing the imposition of preformed and preconceived ideas about ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. The Romani Cultural & Arts Company’s success in delivering Romani and Traveller artists to a much wider public has been acknowledged through the continuing support of the Arts Council of Wales for these and other programmes and projects, and the positive reviews that each show has been greeted by.
The international conferences organised and presented by the Company have engaged many Romani and Traveller academics and experts to deliver positive and profound papers and reports at well-attended and respected events where government ministers and members of the Senedd Cymru have even in attendance. Additionally, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company has been active in soliciting the views an experiences of Romani and Traveller communities, funded by the Welsh government’s equalities bodies, through Community Champions, to policies, strategies, and ‘action plans’, in ways that genuinely reflects these, allowing a ‘voice’ to the previously voiceless, and a presence in policy that was missing before…
If you have a particular series of questions and queries regarding our work and programme, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org