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Debate to look at group's culture and life.

THE cultural and social difficulties facing members of Gypsy and Travellers communities will to be debated at a celebration event being held in West Wales this weekend.

Starting today in Llanelli, the idea behind it is to challenge both the racism that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities experience and their own, internalised, racism.

Organisers said the event is about raising aspirations, promoting culture and dispelling the myth that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are "hard-to-reach".

As well as hosting a wealth of academic speakers, the events will also see traditional arts, dance food and music celebrated.

Isaac Blake, director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company, and a speaker at the event, said great efforts had been made to broaden the horizons of communities. He said since the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (GRTHM) burst onto the cultural scene in 2009, similar events were evolving across the country.

"I was encouraged by a Cardiff-based school teacher to produce a dance piece celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller," said Mr Isaac, a dancer and choreographer.

"This small beginning nonetheless sent out two very important messages.

The first to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities that said that their cultures were worth shouting about, and the second to policy makers and service providers who genuinely believed that the communities were 'too hard to reach' and that they almost certainly would not take part." This week's events celebrate all aspects of Romani, Gypsy and Traveller culture.

"Our celebrations are timely and topical because of the events and protests taking place at Dale Farm in Essex," said organiser and member of the Travelling community Tina Carr.

The first day, held at Llanelli's Glenalla Civic Hall, will include presentations and discussions with members of the local communities, artists, academics and politicians. The second day, hosted at Cardigan's Small World Centre, features a photographic exhibition by Romani photographer Andrea Annam[sz]ria Duka. Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas, who will be speaking at the event, said: "This event is important because we need to celebrate Romani, Gypsy and Traveller culture."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 30, 2011
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