A recent report by the Welsh Anti-Racist Union concludes that the procedures and policies of the Arts Council for Wales and National Museums Wales are fundamentally racist and place barriers to the participation of black people and people of colour in the arts and cultural activities in Wales. Such a report is timely and important and seeks to address inequality within two areas that can only flourish through encouraging a diversity of perspectives and experiences.
It is galling to note however that these conclusions have been presented and reported in way that confirms the fallacy that no black person or person of colour can or would want to speak the Welsh language. Even worse is the implication that the interests of two minority groups (black people and Welsh speakers) must be pitted against each other, without acknowledging that this is a false dichotomy, The Welsh language is a skill which can be learnt: black people and people of colour across Wales already speak it and more importantly, there should be acessible and inclusive opportunities for all to learn it.
The irony of this necessary report is that it has led to the media focusing solely on the Welsh language as being a barrier to equality, while ignoring the centuries of unjust ideology which is totally unrelated to the efforts to win civil rights for the Welsh language and its speakers.
This suggests an urgent need to initiate a far-reaching discussion on how to balance and integrate race equality (and all other equality strands) with the needs of the Welsh language in public life. It is frankly heart-breaking that it is currently easier to scapegoat other minorities than to challenge the status quo.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an extra£30m for the development of Welsh language education. The organisation’s Chair, Heini Gruffudd said:
“We are very pleased that the Government acknowledges the need to invest in Welsh language education and that this is essential contribution to the aim of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”
He added however that such an investment would not be acceptable as a one-off payment and that financial support has to reflect a long-term committment to the development of Welsh language education:
“We would emphasise however that this committment is necessary on a regular annual basis if it is to make a real difference and support local authorities to plan robust provision in accordance with the timetable of their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans.
In the context of the Welsh 2050 Project, and its implications for education, the Government must accept that it has no other choice than to work strategically and support each essential step with regular and appropriate funding.”
Dyfodol has written to the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism calling for adequate funding for the National Library of Wales. Here are our arguments:
We oppose any further cuts which will threaten the future of an establishment essential to the history, culture and indeed the identity of the nation.
At a time when history, culture and their interpretation are so important and when sincere and necessary efforts are made to highlight marginalised cultures and viewpoints, we believe that the concept of a National Library which safeguards all of Wales’s cultures becomes ever more important in terms of defining our identity and our place in the world.
As an organisation which lobbies for the good of the Welsh language, our priorities are based upon the history, literature and objects that relate to the language; this is what we wish to see protected and interpreted for future generations. We also recognise that any threat to the Library is also a threat not only to the history of our language but to all the cultures of Wales.
More and not less staff and resources are needed if the Library is to function inclusively. We also note and regret the loss of jobs within an organisation which always used to place an emphasis on Welsh as the language of the workplace.
We cannot see any justification for this harm and would be pleased to receive your comments on this disturbing situation.