Culture

Report claims national cultural institutions’ Welsh language policies could ‘exclude’ people of colour

20 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
National Museum of Wales. Picture by Ham II (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

The Welsh language policies of two of Wales’ national cultural bodies could “exclude” people of colour, a new report has said.

The Arts Council of Wales and National Museum Wales had commissioned research by the Welsh Anti-Racist Union.

According to the report, the organisations have consistently failed to address endemic racism in their distribution of funds, and it demands action to address this.

The report states that participants in the research suggested “relaxing the emphasis on having to speak Welsh, and providing opportunities to learn on the job”.

They also suggested “job sharing roles that may require Welsh language proficiency” when a person of colour doesn’t speak Welsh may be a “solution”.

The critical report describes the lack of policies to promote diversity within the national institutions as “disheartening” and says people of colour are not more present because of a “concerted structural effort”.

“The continual exclusion and disregard for black and non-black communities is not due to willful ignorance; it is due to a calculated and repetitive pattern,” it says.

Both publicly funded bodies have accepted the conclusions of the report.

‘Fluent’

The report comes after the Arts Council of Wales had recently been criticised for its decision to advertise a senior position without a requirement for fluency in Welsh.

The Archdruid, Myrddin ap Dafydd, has slammed the organisation for “undermining and undervaluing” the Welsh language.

He said that you “can’t do the job” of Director of Arts Development properly without being able to speak the language.

The director will be responsible for promoting the Welsh language within the sector and it is one of the most important posts within the organisation.

But the Arts Council says it is looking for someone who is “passionate” about the Welsh language for the post, which comes with a salary of between £59,269 and £75,477.

Originally the job description said fluency in the Welsh language was “desirable” but not “essential”.

However, following an outcry it was amended to say that the “successful candidate will have good practical knowledge of the Welsh language and a commitment to becoming fluent within a reasonable timescale (12 months) if they are not already.”

In an internal letter to the Chair of the Arts Council, the Unite union has expressed its “disappointment” that Welsh was not a requirement for the job.

The Eisteddfod Council has written to the Minister for the Welsh language, Jeremy Miles, to share its “concerns” that someone responsible for language policy and strategy, would not have to be able to speak Welsh.

‘Support’

The report said that all participants had agreed that increasing the number of Black and non-Black people of colour working within the Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru was key to improving reliability and ensuring that applicants and freelancers were given a fairer chance to access opportunities.

It suggests a number of changes stated by participants, including:

  • The importance of increasing overall numbers within organisations, etting quotas and applying penalties to those who did not meet them;
  • Relaxing the emphasis on having to speak Welsh, and providing opportunities to learn on the job; increasing the number of black and non-black people of colour in HR departments
  • Job sharing in roles that may require Welsh language proficiency, where a black or non-black person of colour who doesn’t speak Welsh can work alongside a Welsh speaker

The report says: “Marginalised artists and art workers should receive support to learn different languages, in addition to Welsh.

“This additional support is necessary because Welsh language policies in current applications can exclude Black and non-Black people of colour.

“Furthermore, being able to communicate in a multitude of languages (as spoken by different communities in Wales) can enable Black and non-Black people of colour to engage more widely with different audiences.”

A joint statement issued by the Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru said: “We welcome the findings within these studies.

“The approaches taken by all three organisations focused on collaborating with communities rather than extrapolating from communities, and provide a range of important findings and recommendations.

“Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru will publish a joint action plan with a timeframe for taking forward the recommendations in the autumn.”

4 Comments
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Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

The answer to that is surely simple. Ensure ALL of our communities have access to our culture in both languages.

Mathew Rees
Mathew Rees
1 month ago

“People of colour” are given the same opportunities to learn Welsh wherever they go to school in Wales. It’s up to them if they want to learn it fluently.

95pc of Wales is white.

Dylan
1 month ago
Reply to  Mathew Rees

I’m not sure that’s the case. Many of the areas where Welsh is a community language and where first language Welsh education is available aren’t areas where there are large ethnic minority communities. That is an issue, and one I’m sure we can discuss without rancor and come to sensible solutions about without pitting Welsh speakers and ethnic minorities against each other. There are short term solutions to this which give the same opportunities to BAME people who don’t speak Welsh and long term ones that ensure that BAME people have the same opportunities to learn Welsh from birth.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

This suggests that 1. There are no people of colour that speak Welsh (nonsense) 2. People of colour have no ability to learn Welsh if they don’t already speak it(patronising nonsense) 3. The Welsh language itself is the preserve of white people, therfore: is racist (this is getting ridiculous). This is the weakness in the philosophical game of intersectionality – eventually, minority interests get pitted against each other, all vying for the sole goal that exists within that ideological game – power. Horrible, dangerous stuff. Our culture is now a national one – it applies to those who feel Cymraeg,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh

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