We are the leading organisation in Wales which, through the creative arts, promotes a better understanding of black history, changes perspectives on black culture, challenges inequalities experienced by many black communities and promotes respect for cultural differences.
We believe in the power of the arts to enrich and to change the lives of black people in Wales, to share our diverse cultures, and to empower our communities by providing opportunities to build confidence, skills and experiences.
We believe that participation in the arts can be transformative for bringing diverse cultures together in order to promote creativity, embrace diversity and celebrate difference.
We aim to build a long-term, sustainable arts programme of national and international significance that will support and celebrate the creativity of black communities in Wales into the future.
We are committed to celebrating black achievement in Wales and to promoting learning about black history.
We work in partnership with our stakeholders to empower black communities to flourish in the cultural and creative life of Wales.
We strive for social integration, we champion diversity and we challenge racism.
We believe that the staff, supporters and stakeholders of BHM Wales are our most important asset.
We believe people can grow emotionally and professionally by working to our values and by working in our environment of mutual trust.
We believe that diversity within the team gives us a professional advantage.
We respect our colleagues, our stakeholders and with all we engage.
We are all personally responsible for achieving the goals of BHM Wales.
We behave ethically and responsibly, and uphold the values and principles of BHM Wales in our work.
We all have a clear vision of what BHM Wales stands for.
We have confidence in each other’s capabilities and intentions.
BHM Wales Arts Programme
BHM Wales Arts Programme stands for Pride, Distinctiveness, Economic Impact and Innovation
PRIDE We want the arts to be a genuine source of pride to black people across our communities, celebrating our contribution to Wales as a great place to live.
DISTINCTIVENESS We want our arts programme to reflect the culture and ambitions of black people.
ECONOMIC IMPACT We want our arts programme to play a role in the economic, social and cultural development of Wales.
INNOVATION We want our arts programme to innovate, challenge and surprise
BHM Wales Themes
Our goal is to deliver innovative, exciting and challenging programme for African and African Caribbean arts in Wales.
To drive effectively the BHM Wales Arts Programme, we have assigned a theme, to each year. The theme is a constant guide to BHM Wales management team and, our external and internal stakeholders, as we develop our annual events, celebrations and activities.
The themes inform our decisions, ensuring that we are making the right artistic and educational choices.
Each theme will inspire participants to explore historical topics, share stories and develop innovative ways of engaging audiences through a range of artistic media.
2019 Movers, Shakers and Legacy Makers
This theme is a more sophisticated development of the 2016 BHM Wales theme of Young, Gifted and Black. It featured prominently young black people and their roles as history makers and custodians of the future. It has drawn a five-year journey together into a spectacular youth-led extravaganza, showcasing young black talent.
2018 Icons of Black Wales
This year explored the achievements of black people through the ages. It inspired participants to develop new and exciting ways to share the stories of key black individuals through the arts.
2017 Black History Shared History
This year challenged artists and participants to develop innovative arts to celebrate the black presence in Wales and explored how this has influenced the nation.
Black people have lived in the country we now know as Wales for millennia. Their archaeological remains date back to at least the Roman era. More recent history illustrates that black communities have been established in Wales for at least 500 years, from the earliest times of Welsh involvement in Britain’s colonial expansion from the 16th century onwards – Welsh people participated in the transatlantic slave trade, and the country’s copper, iron and wool provided the resources to keep the trade going. This participation in Atlantic slavery led to Wales’s rapid industrial and economic development and contributed to a massive growth in maritime activity as the country’s natural resources were exported to support Britain’s expanding empire. In turn, international shipping brought black people from all over the world, following the trade routes, to seek out new lives in Wales.
The port towns of south Wales, such as Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, and, later, the industrial centres of Port Talbot and Merthyr Tydfil became homes to growing numbers of African and African Caribbean communities. People came to settle and raise their families in Wales from countries such as Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, with Butetown in Cardiff (known colloquially for many years as Tiger Bay) becoming one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the whole of the UK. In recent years, black people have moved further afield and are represented in nearly every part of Wales, drawn by economic and educational opportunities offered by the country’s hospitals and universities.
People of African and African Caribbean descent have made significant contributions to Wales. Singer Dame Shirley Bassey, athlete Colin Jackson and footballer Ryan Giggs are among those who have attained world recognition for their achievements. However, black communities can all too frequently be underrepresented in the cultural life in Wales, with proportionately lower participation rates than white communities (i). Black History Wales seeks to redress this imbalance with this strategy.
African and African Caribbean communities have produced some of the most vibrant art on the planet. With cultural traditions to draw from around 2,000 ethnic groups spread over fifty-four African countries, around thirty Caribbean countries and a wider international diaspora, their output is expressed through a wide range of traditional and contemporary media. While some artists of African heritage are keen to convey in their work social and cultural meanings that have come down through generations, others prefer to challenge the notion that African art is tribal and timeless. The range of depth of work produced by black artists can be experienced at events such as Nottingham
Contemporary’s The Place is Here (Feb-May 2017), where 30 black artists use their work to explore issues such as Britain’s colonial past, human rights and black feminism (ii). African and African Caribbean art has influenced some of the most popular artists of the modern era in the Western world. Gauguin, Picasso and Matisse were all inspired by the concepts of nature, emotion, pattern and colour strikingly evident in African art. In Wales, painter Ceri Richards, poet Dylan Thomas and ceramicist Michael Cardew all acknowledge African influence in their work.
Wales itself has a strong indigenous artistic tradition, in literature, painting, music and more, influenced over the generations not least by the country’s landscape, religion and industry. Not only does Wales support a large number of artists across a wide range of artistic disciplines but the vast majority of the country’s population engage with, and support, the arts. A recent survey by Arts Council Wales indicates that 86% of the people of Wales (adults and children) attend arts events at least once a year (iii). Galleries across Wales, such as the Glynn Vivian in Swansea and the Mostyn in Llandudno, present the work of Welsh artists and smaller arts collectives and individual artists can be found all over the country.
i https://orca.cf.ac.uk/18365/1/2290-wales-migration-cohesion.pdf, p. 10, 15/12/2016.
ii https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/art/place-here. 15/02/2017.
iii https://www.arts.wales/102391.file.dld. 20/02/2017.