Museums and the culture sector are to play a key role in delivering the new Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan, which has been published by the Welsh Government this week.
The plan sets out a series of actions to be taken across all government policy areas over the next two years. The plan is set against a vision of a Wales that is anti-racist by 2030.
The culture, heritage and sport section of the plan outlines goals and actions that aim to “eliminate discrimination and barriers to the full enjoyment of all aspects of culture, heritage and sport, and to recognise and celebrate past and present racial and ethnic diversity in Wales”.
Goals for the culture, heritage and sports sectors
- To hold publicly funded organisations accountable for the delivery of anti-racist measures and actions.
- To work with our sponsored bodies to ensure they use their spending powers to embed anti-racist practice, facilitate equality of access and outcomes, and maximise participation for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.
- To support all parts of the society in Wales to embrace and celebrate its diverse cultural heritage while understanding, and recognising the right to, freedom of cultural expression.
- To work with public bodies to fully recognise their responsibility (individual and collectively) for setting the right historic narrative, promoting and delivering a balanced, authentic and decolonised account of the past – one that recognises both historical injustices and the positive impact of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
- Identify and meet targets to deliver anti-racist education and learning; including interpretation, marketing and educational materials that recognise and celebrate the rich and diverse cultural mix of our society, encourage widespread physical and intellectual engagement and so promote anti-racist practice and principles throughout.
A consultation found that there was a feeling that that public bodies have been “cautious, and sometimes resistant to supporting and representing diverse ethnic minority groups” due to actual or perceived restrictions on use of public funds for political or religious programmes.
The consultation found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, in particular, “often feel that they have been left to fend for themselves and have had little choice but to develop cultural and sporting activities in isolation, unfunded and unsupported”.
Those consulted also spoke of the challenges they face in relation to the “freedom to express identity through language” and the “right of successive generations to have opportunities to learn about their unique and valued cultural inheritance”. They also stressed that ownership of the cultural narrative was critical and that the sector must avoid “the trap of telling ethnic minority people’s cultural or heritage stories through the filter of a different ‘lens’ or perspective”.
The Welsh Government will work with cultural and heritage bodies across Wales to deliver the goals of the plan, including the Arts Council of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, the National Library of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, as well as local museums, libraries and archives. Government funding of £4.25m will be available over three years to the culture, heritage and sport sectors towards the delivery of the action plan.
Deputy minister for arts and sport, Dawn Bowden, said: “The work to deliver the goals and actions for culture, heritage and sport has already begun across culture, heritage and sport organisations.
“This will be supported by £4.25m in funding over the next three years through the launch of an innovative grant scheme which will cover our sponsored bodies, a competitive grant scheme across our sectors and a ring-fenced fund specifically for grassroots organisations.
“Working at a national, local and grassroots level, we aim to deliver meaningful change for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people across Wales.”
Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association (MA), said: “The MA very much welcomes this ground-breaking commitment to becoming an anti-racist nation and the recognition of the fundamental role that culture and heritage will play in achieving this ambition.
“Museums are central to achieving the goals set out in the plan, in particular because of the collections that we hold, the stories that they can unlock and the way in which we can use our spaces to host discussion and debate about contemporary issues.
“The plan is backed by in-depth research and consultation with communities that are impacted by racism and inequality of access, and the recommendations have been co-curated with those communities. It could be transformational for communities and museums – and I hope that the combination of a clear strategy with tangible goals and funding will lead to the transformation not just of institutions but of everyone’s experience of museums.
“We look forward to working with colleagues and members in Wales to support delivery and to showcase the work across the UK sector and internationally.”