“Appalling and backward looking decision” GS Criticises Cornish Language Funding Cut

News from Celtic League

The General Secretary of the Celtic League has made a submission to the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport in London, regarding their inquiry into ‘cultural resourcing for the regions’.

The General Secretary, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, has made the submission on the area of ‘current funding situation for cultural sectors in the regions and sub-regions’ and ‘value and impact of culture in the regions’, following the announcement last week that the Government would severe funding for the Cornish language with immediate effect.

In the submission Rhisiart Tal-e-bot wrote:

“The Cornish language has a beneficial and multiple financial impact on the already heavily depressed Cornish economy. The appalling and backward looking decision to withdraw funding for the language at the current time, exemplifies the apparent contempt and lack of understanding this Government has for Cornish and its important place in Cornwall’s distinct heritage.”

An edited version of the submission can be found below:

“The Cornish language is described as ‘critically endangered’ by the United Nations and in 2002, when the language was officially recognised by the then Labour Party Government and included for protection under the terms of the European Charter for Regional and/or Minority Government, a new era of ‘official’ support was embarked upon. That Government decision and the direct funding that followed, bolstered the resolve of Cornish language activists to try and plan seriously for a sustainable future for the language in a way never before undertaken.

The creation of the Cornish Language Partnership, linked to Lys Kernow/Cornwall Council, established on the back of that initial and subsequent Government funding, demonstrated that the Cornish language community were willing to work together to ensure that knowledge of this essential element of Cornish heritage could be shared by and with anyone who took an interest. Moreover, for the first time ever the Cornish language could be promoted and protected by a team of employed people who worked solely to develop the language for the benefit of all. These are positive outcomes that previous funding for the language have produced.

However, under this funding structure the situation was far from ideal, because the amount of funding being provided for what needed to be done was small and the number of projects that could receive financial support was very limited, especially when salaries had been deducted. Of course the outcomes of these projects need to be broad and deep in order to maximise the numbers of people coming into contact with the language, but such conditions often ultimately weaken the projects making them less effective in terms of language planning.

In addition funding for the language was allocated on an annual basis, at the whim of a government department, as the current situation demonstrates. Funding for the protection and promotion of critically endangered languages, such as Cornish, should be part of a long term government strategy with ring-fenced funding streams. In the absence such conditions, the development and revival of Cornish will inevitably be dependent on the continued voluntary support of individuals and groups, but this is not good enough.

In fact without the goodwill of hundreds of dedicated volunteers the successful promotion of Cornish at a community level was always going to be a struggle, because the way the funding was structured and the amount allocated was simply not sufficient. In many ways the funding has been most successful in bolstering the resolve and growing the numbers of the volunteer community to work towards the revival and the regeneration of the language. The official recognition of the language and the funding from the Government provided a platform that has helped to bring this divergent community together for the benefit of Cornish heritage, knowing that their work was being valued and having an impact.

Consequently, the recent withdrawal of government funding for the Cornish language is not only devastating for the future of Cornish language planning, but (re)places an unfair burden on the multitude of volunteers whose job it becomes again to prop-up Cornish for the benefit for this and future generations.

The Cornish language has a beneficial and multiple financial impact on the already heavily depressed Cornish economy. The appalling and backward looking decision to withdraw funding for the language at the current time, exemplifies the apparent contempt and lack of understanding this Government has for Cornish and its important place in Cornwall’s distinct heritage. Once again I would like to reiterate my deep concern and disappointment at this Government’s decision to withdraw the small amount of funding that was being provided to the language and hope that this decision can be reversed. If funding for the language can be reinstated at some point in the future then it is our hope that a better structure for how funding is allocated can be negotiated.”

The deadline for submissions to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s Countries of Culture inquiry on cultural resourcing has been extended until Saturday, 30 April 2016.  Information may be sent to the Committee online here:
https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/countries-of-culture-15-16/

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot

28/04/16

THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries including our own Mannin branch. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues
The link for the main web pages is below:
https://celticleague.net

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