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