Progress Report 2018

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company Ltd 

Aka Romani Arts

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

The Charity’s 9th 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:

Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – ‘No Travellers!’ Project

The Romani Cultural & Arts Company was excited by the £49,800 grant provided by The Heritage Lottery Fund.  The project finishes in August 2018.

The money has paid for our experienced Community Champions from the Gypsy and Traveller communities to carry out extensive fieldwork across South East, South West & Mid Wales. The work has seen the gathering of stimulating oral histories, photographs and artefacts to chart, record and archive the fascinating and significant stories of this captivating people.  

With participants from the regional Gypsy, Traveller and fairground communities, the collection is an enlightening and an essential archive of the experiences and memories of this unique people. To ensure a broad range of participants, our fieldwork sought out and worked with house-dwelling Gypsies and Travellers and new-site residents.   

We remain very grateful to the support and funding provided by The Heritage Lottery Fund.  

“The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is one of the most consistently innovative and vibrant organisations on the Romani cultural scene that it has done so much to create.” Dr Thomas A Acton OBE, Professor Emeritus in Romani Studies | University of Greenwich, London | Corvinus University, Budapest.

Additional Community Champion posts for Gypsy & Traveller sites

The Romani Cultural & Arts Company is pleased to announce that it has received a Big Lottery grant of £99,680 for a two-year project to support elderly Gypsies and Travellers across South-East Wales. This funding will now be used to target support to the elders of the local Gypsy & Traveller sites by providing Community Champions. These essential posts will organise regular social events and meetings for the elders of the Gypsy & Traveller community and improve community access.    

This is a ground-breaking initiative that will enable the elders of this vulnerable, marginalised community to stand up, be heard and to grow in confidence so that they can better engage with agencies and public services.   

We are very proud of the service we provide to the local Gypsy & Traveller community and we know that many people will benefit from this additional capacity.  Laurel Price, an elder site resident from Rover Way in Cardiff said: ‘Nothing happens on site. We are abandoned and I think its great to have someone looking out for us.’ 

Rona Aldrich, Wales Committee Member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales. It delivers on our promise to use National Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy.”

Shiftwork ‘GYPSY MAKER 3’ Project – funded through Arts Council of Wales

This is an ongoing project funded by the Arts Council of Wales and sees the following artists come together to exhibit old and new works. The project finishes in October 2018:

Daniel Baker   

Shamus McPhee   

Artur Conka  

Billy Kerry  

Shiftwork brings together four artists who through their work tease out a number of aesthetic and political issues concerning Gypsy, Roma and Traveller lives through cultural representation. Some of the works on display were shown as solo presentations as part of the Gypsy Maker project; an initiative launched in 2014 by the Romani Cultural & Arts Company to profile the work of GRT artists in venues across Wales. Their ongoing aim is to commission established and emerging Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists to develop innovative works while engaging GRT communities and the wider public in dialogue about contemporary art and cultural perspectives.

Each of the artists takes a different approach – from the documentary style of Artur Conka, one of the few Roma to have recorded their own community on film, to the sculptural installations of Daniel Baker which examine the aesthetic mechanisms of migration and free movement. The idiosyncratic paintings of Shamus McPhee have a distinct ‘outsider art’ feel while complex issues of identity and gender are explored in the eclectic work of Billy Kerry. These unique approaches to contemporary Romani culture draw people together by highlighting the links between communities whilst at the same time recognising and celebrating difference. This exhibition presents newly commissioned works developed in dialogue with g39 alongside a number of existing works produced over the lifetime of Gypsy Maker project.


One of our outstanding Community Champions, Chris Lee has continued to attend national and international events. We support all our Community Champions in extending their personal reach and impact and that of the charity. 

Chris Lee once again represented the Romani Cultural and Arts Company in Budapest at the follow-up meeting of the Roma LGBTI Conference which was held in Strasbourg in June 2017.

This important event was organised and funded by The Council of Europe.  Representatives of several European countries including the UK participated in training designed to mobilise communities and further establish networks. 

Many Roma LGBTI people continue to remain invisible and conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The LGBTI movement itself does not always prove inclusive and responsive enough to the needs of LGBTI people belonging to ethnic minorities.  The stigma they face has a detrimental impact on their life chances.  The cultural clash between sexual orientation and gender identity on the one hand and Roma traditions and societal expectations on the other, place LGBTI Roma at the crossroads of discrimination.

Isaac Blake  represented RCAC at ILGA-Europe’s Annual Conference in  Warsaw, Poland , November 2017

Isaac Blake attended the ILGA-Europe’s Annual Conference in  Warsaw, Poland in November 2017. Isaac made a joint presentation with other European organisations around the issues faced by LGBTQI Gypsies, Roma & Travellers and the ‘double-discrimination’ they face. 

Isaac won a scholarship to attend this conference. The networking benefits to RCAC were unmeasurable.

Additional Information Relating to the charity’s activities.

Over 2017-18, the charity has supported other organisations and projects, for example, 

Working with Gypsy Traveller and Roma communities. 

On 7 March, 2018, around 50 delegates joined Iriss for a day of discussion and talks. The theme of the day was to explore how co-production can equip social services with the cultural competency they need when working with Gypsy Traveller and Roma communities. It was a chance to identify the unique challenges facing these two distinct communities in Scotland and think about creative ways to overcome them. Throughout the day we heard from Gypsy Traveller and Romani speakers who presented national projects that have used creative methods to achieving better outcomes for Gypsy Travellers and Roma People. We also heard from academics and researchers who have worked alongside these communities. After exploring the Scottish context, Isaac Blake, Executive Director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company in Cardiff presented on working with Gypsy, Roma andTraveller communities across the country. He offered some reflections on the Stories on Health and Wellness project led by NHS Centre for Equality and Human Rights and Romani Arts and Cultural Company. Isaac is a Romani Gypsy and has worked as a professional dancer and choreographer. He spoke about the process that the organisation went through to collect 100 stories from young parents and older carers, digitally recorded by members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community themselves. It was fantastic to hear first-hand about this ground-breaking work which will form the basis for an e-learning module. This module will be compulsory for all NHS Wales staff.

Quotation from delegates attending Isaac Blake’s workshop:

“It was inspiring hearing about co-production in Wales. It was great to hear positive examples and high achieving GRT, this group is often ignored.”

Using our charity website as a mouthpiece and general support for community members, we have also enabled people to ‘tell their story’.

Community Profiles 

We have developed the RCAC website to include regular ‘community profiles’ so that we are continuously drawing positive attention to some of the dynamic and colourful characters and personalities from across the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller spheres. There is a wealth of talent and experience across Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. We are very proud of our community and the hard work that many community members carry out as advocates and champions for the colourful and vibrant heritage and culture of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. 

Book of the Week

We are currently promoting a ‘book of the week’ on our website. We are doing this in order to encourage the wider public to learn about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. This venture is to encourage the GRT community and wider public to learn about the history of Gypsies, Roma & Travellers and also something about the language and how this has adapted over the centuries.


In order to build up the charity’s unrestricted funds, we provide training and consultancy.

Over 2017-18, three training events have been organised by the charity to further enhance its reach and influence and also to generate unreserved funds. Below are details of the experienced trainers and speakers who have been involved. All of them are from the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller community – unique:

Dr Adrian Marsh – Researcher in Romani Studies & Romani Early Years

Dr Adrian Marsh – Researcher in Romani Studies & Romani Early Years, is of Romany-Traveller origins and has been working with Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt and central, eastern and south eastern Europe. Dr Marsh has taught Romani Studies at universities in London, Malmö, Stockholm, Cairo, Istanbul and Diyarbakir and has held an ERSC fellowship, as Researcher in Romani Studies at Greenwich University, London. He recently managed Early Childhood Development projects for Roma, Gypsies and Travellers for the Open Society Foundations, London. He is currently living and working in Istanbul, as a consultant expert fort OSF, the Council of Europe, Save the Children and ISSA’s Romani Early Years Network.

Christine Lee – Community Champion

Christine Lee is of Welsh Romany Gypsy heritage and grew up in north Wales.  She currently resides in Barry near Cardiff.  Chris worked as a graphic designer in advertising, theatre, education and publishing for over 30 years. She also established and ran her own successful graphic design company – Chris Lee Design. Through contact with the Dollar Park Traveller Site in north Wales and other Romany Traveller families, Chris became aware of the serious issues, which many families face on a regular basis. She is keen to contribute to a greater understanding of these issues by the wider population, to bring about change and to make the non-Gypsy community more aware of the rich culture and traditions of Gypsies in Wales.


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.

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.

Financial Review

  • Policies on reserves;

The Trustees wish to establish a reserve equivalent to approximately 3 months of the charity’s running costs by the end of the third year of the charity’s operation.

  • Principal funding sources and how expenditure in the year under review has supported the key objectives of the charity;
  • Any funds in deficit at the start or the year, steps taken to eliminate
  • The investment policy and objectives, including any extent (if any) to which social, environmental or ethical considerations are taken into account;
  • Availability and adequacy of assets of each of the funds;
  • Transactions and financial position;
  • Specific changes in fixed assets;
  • Financial performance of the charities subsidiary undertakings;
  • Funds held as custodian trustee on behalf of others – including description of assets, name and objects of charity on behalf of who held, arrangements for safe custody;

Plans for Future Periods

  • Charity’s plans for the future to include aims and key objectives that have been set and activities planned to achieve.

We are now planning ahead to 2019 when the charity will seek new funds to grow and enhance the excellent work that it does.

  • We are seeking core funding support from some key funders
  • We are seeking new funding for our children’s art project
  • Further training and consultancy needs to take place to increase available unrestricted funds.

Measurable impact of some of the recent work of RCAC

(GRT – Gypsy, Roma and Traveller / RCAC – Romani Cultural & Arts Company)

Over 2017-18, RCAC has had impact and has continually:

  • Improved the community’s self-worth and confidence
  • Improved the ability of children and young people to sustain positive activity
  • Improved the ability of children and young people to socialise and mix with other groups
  • Improved the confidence of children and young people in accessing supporting services and agencies
  • Improved the confidence of community elders in seeking support from the local authority and other agencies
  • Improved the confidence of the community in seeking employment and in volunteering to make their local area and services better
  • Improved access for the local authority and supporting agencies to the GRT community
  • Improved cultural pride of the GRT community
  • Enabled ‘silenced’ community voices to be heard for the first time
  • Enabled the GRT community to stand up, be noticed and share their stories and personal journey
  • Enabled experienced, professionals from the GRT community a platform to become Community Champions, advocates for their community and their right to be heard and to tolerance
  • Enabled children and young people to regularly celebrate their community’s history, culture and heritage without fear of reprisal or hatred
  • Enabled key public services to conduct essential research into the concerns of the GRT community with an aim to improving access to vital support for health, educated and housing
  • Enabled community elders to gain essential skills through volunteering, sessional work and full time employment with the charity; thus impacting on their whole families and wider GRT community’s confidence, status and wellbeing
  • Enabled politicians, third sector and public sector leaders to debate key equality issues with the GRT community so that the community’s voice is always put first and always heard
  • Enabled the best of GRT heritage, culture and art to be showcased throughout Wales, the UK and internationally through ground-breaking exhibitions and innovative online platforms
  • Challenged politicians and public sector leaders to reflect on policy and practice to make improvements to provision for the GRT community

As further examples of impact from specific projects:

Gypsy maker:

  • GRT artists are providing effective role models to children and young people. Feedback from schools workshops is very positive.We have made a difference.
  • Raise awareness of vulnerability of GRT community and long-standing discrimination.
  • Rich heritage, culture and artistry of GRT community is presented in its full glory to wider society, improving understanding and promoting tolerance.We have changed lives.

Older person’s project funded by Big Lottery:

  • These posts are already having an impact with elders coming together to have their say on key issues and generate ideas for how to bring the community together for social events.
  • Elders will be: Better informed; Better connected; Less isolated have made the world a more tolerant place for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to exist in.