British Sign Language will be adopted as a third language under plans by Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) and Arts Council of Wales to broaden their reach among all communities.
The Widening Engagement Action Plan sets out a number of commitments and was developed following reports commissioned by the organisations last year that identified changes needed to ensure better representation.
Both organisations have pledged to ensure their leadership is representative of the population, as well as declaring zero tolerance to any form of discrimination. They have committed to cultural programmes being led and co-produced by communities and ensuring more equitable use of resources. In addition to adopting British Sign Language, the organisations will work to ensure venues, museums and cultural resources are as accessible as possible.
They have also committed to continuing their work in promoting the Welsh Language and delivering the Welsh Government Cymraeg 2050 goals. The action plan states: “The Welsh language belongs to everyone, of all communities, and members of those communities use and celebrate the language every day.”
The action plan comes in response to research carried out by Re:cognition, which focused on an area of semi-rural poverty; Richie Turner Associates, which focused on deaf and disabled people; and the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, which focused on cultural and ethnic diversity.
The reports were commissioned to help Amgueddfa Cymru and Arts Council of Wales better understand how they can reach some of the communities they consistently fail to engage in their work.
The organisations say they took a different approach to research in order to hear more effectively what community stakeholders had to say about engaging with cultural programmes in Wales. “Each of the consultants worked with communities, rather than extracting opinions from them, to set the foundations for real change for the future,” says the action plan.
“This new research points to some fundamental changes that are needed to make sure that we are truly representative of our communities,” said Roger Lewis, president of Amgueddfa Cymru.
“The plans shared today are the first step in making sure those changes happen so that the communities who don’t currently feel that cultural institutions and organisations in Wales are for them, start to see and experience positive change.”
Phil George, chair of Arts Council of Wales, said: “We are committed to engaging more widely with communities all across Wales, funding cultural activity which reflects the lives, concerns and creativity of people in those communities. These action plans, responding to challenging research which focused on three specific and important communities, are vital first steps in widening engagement.”
Both organisations are already moving forward with some of this work. Amgueddfa Cymru is collaborating with Barnardo’s, Children in Wales, Jukebox Collective, Llamau, Promo Cymru, and the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel to develop opportunities and programmes for young people. These include paid employment opportunities for more than 80 independent young people aged 18 to 25 from diverse backgrounds as part of Hands-on Heritage, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Steps project is currently supporting seven organisations on a business development programme. The organisations are either D/deaf and disability-led or led by practitioners from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds.