I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
These reports, or certainly one of them, prompted old Shippo at Llais y Sais to give it something close to the, ‘We Are At War With Germany’ treatment. (Available here in pdf format.)
Front page lead continued on inside page, completed with a full page of grovelling from the white supremacist running-dogs of the patriarchal imperialist-colonialist system.
This passage from the Arts Council website explains the exercise . . .
“At the end of June 2020 Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales advertised a tender to undertake a series of in-depth research conversations. Our aim was to widen engagement with communities we consistently fail to engage in our work. We received 34 submissions and after a detailed selection process and interviews we decided to appoint three organizations to undertake three very different studies.”
The reports from the three successful tenders have been submitted and are now available online. They are from: Re:cognition, Richie Turner Associates, and the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.
So let’s look at them in that order.
The first problem I have with these people is the name. Let me explain.
There is a company Re:Cognition, with qualified medical people involved in specialist mental health services. And an annual turnover in excess of £10m. But this was not the company employed by Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru.
For as the report tells us, on the very first page, its authors are Jon Luxton and Lu Thomas, two Labour Party stalwarts from Penarth. (Where Luxton was once mayor.) And wouldn’t you know it – Lu Thomas has appeared on this blog! In ‘Plaid Cymru’s enemy within‘ (scroll down a bit).
Lu Thomas is big in Pride Cymru, and something of a trans fanatic, believing that ‘women with penises’ are being persecuted. Everywhere. By everybody.
Here’s her Linkedin profile. Where you’ll see that she claims to be a director of a company called Cognition.
Cognition Training Ltd, directors Thomas and Luxton, was put out of its misery in December 2018. But even when trading it never provided the income that bought Thomas and her wife their £500,000+ house on Windsor Esplanade.
The ‘Cognition’ name was also used by Luxton and Thomas in Cognition Associates. Which produced a website where the latest ‘News’ is from July 2013. Cognition Associates was never registered with Companies House.
And now there’s Re:cognition Wales. Or rather, there’s a website. Note that Thomas and Luxton use a lower case ‘c’, whereas the ‘real’ company spells it ‘Re:Cognition’. But again, this Luxton-Thomas company is not registered with Companies House.
One Lu Thomas company that was registered with Companies House was Pitch Consult Ltd. Incorporated July 15, 2019. Struck off January 5, 2021. No accounts were ever filed.
What I found interesting about Pitch was that the other two directors were Mitchell Theaker and Pearleen Sangha, who you may remember from their appearances on this blog. They were Labour councillors in Swansea; part of the student intake needed to keep up the bruvverly numbers.
Jon Luxton has also been rubbing shoulders with celebrities lately. For listed among the directors in Sound Progression Ltd, along with Luxton, we find Cian Ciaran, of Super Furry Animals, and late of YesCymru. This company was Incorporated June 10, 2019.
Given Luxton’s record its time can not be long.
A glimpse of what Thomas and Luxton do is given in this snippet from the NHS. They work for the Labour Party, in its various forms: ‘Welsh Government’, Cardiff Council, etc.
They also work for bodies reliant on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. Reminiscent of the jobs found for the nephews of made men.
To understand how it operates imagine a phone call from Corruption Bay or City Hall: ‘Oh, hello, Lu, love, how’s it going . . . listen, we want you to do one of your surveys, yeah, here are the findings we want from you’.
And this is why no ‘survey’ conducted by Thomas and Luxton should be given any credence. They are just Labour Party apparatchiks.
The worry should be that these beneficiaries of Labour cronyism get so much work. Work paid for by the public purse. It’s naked corruption.
But it also explains why they were one of the 3 out of 34 applicants chosen by the Arts Council and the Museum to do the ‘research’.
Page 10 of the Thomas and Luxton report tells us (rather clumsily): ‘To note: only one respondent namechecked the Eisteddfod indicating poor reach into this community of mainly English speakers. this lack of Welsh Language art and culture was also demonstrated in the responses to all other relevant questions.’
I wonder if this ‘finding’ will be used in future by the ‘Welsh Government’ to deny or reduce funding to Welsh language organisations, events, and projects, or in other ways be used to undermine the language?
The quote above, from page 12 of the report, about sums up what Thomas and Luxton have to say – ‘Do what our friends in the Welsh Government tell you’.
RICHIE TURNER ASSOCIATES
Whoever these are, they compiled, ‘A research report looking at the reasons why D/deaf, disabled, learning disabled and neurodiverse people do not attend arts events or visit National Museums’ Wales or attend very infrequently’.
While that may have been the ostensible reason for recruiting Richie Turner, his Linkedin profile makes his political leanings very clear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a colourful Linkedin header.
Or one less relevant to Wales.
Richie Turner is of course another Corruption Bay insider. His jobs and appointments listed on Linkedin suggest someone with strong Labour Party connections. For no one in Wales without Labour Party connections could dream of a CV like that.
So what does the Richie Turner Associates report have to say? Though before you read it, I should say that Richie Turner Associates is not a company or a partnership, just an ad hoc group of his friends and, well, associates.
Richie lives in Hay-on-Wye, which is handy for the books, and the festival.
Those who helped him compile his report, also live in the south east. In fact they all seem to live in Cardiff and Gwent. One of them, Lyndy Cooke, is a former director of the Hay Festival. Nice.
Though the report tells us (page 4): ‘Our research engaged with people across all regions of Wales.’
Possibly. But how well do Richie Turner and his gang know these far-flung ‘regions’?
It might also be asked how well Turner knows his associates. For the woman named throughout the report as ‘Mary Allen’ is surely Mary Allan.
There’s little to take issue with in the Richie Turner Associates report. It’s just a litany of complaints followed by a few recommendations. And concluding with some comic book-style illustrations!
Flicking through it a few things caught my jaundiced eye.
This, for example (page 27): “Arty farty type messaging on advertising, such as Gothic and trendy typefaces also make it hard to read from a few feet away in a wheelchair”.
Who could argue with that?
Whereas I found this a little confusing (page 30): “Some places like museums are too big, with too many people. I need less people to be able to go”.
We obviously can’t have empty museums. Museums that attract no visitors will be closed.
All in all, this contribution from Richie Turner Associates may be regarded as the bland filling between two very unappetising slices of bread.
THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION (WAARU)
It’s difficult to know what to make of this one. For a start – what or who is the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union?
I found a Twitter account. I think we can assume that it was started in the period of hysteria following the killing of George Floyd, some 5,000 miles away.
In fact, the WAARU Twitter account started up a week or so after the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru decided to launch their ‘research conversations’ at the end of June 2020. What an amazing coincidence!
The first tweet was on July 6, 2020, followed by a flurry of tweets that ended on August 11. There was nothing then until a retweet on Oct 20. A further retweet in November, another in December. Then nothing until April 18 and 19. A final retweet on May 14, attacking Israel, and nothing since.
Why hasn’t the Twitter account rejoiced in WAARU’s participation in this exercise? I find this very odd.
We can reasonably assume that the WAARU leans politically to the left, maybe quite far to the left.
There is no website for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Just a Gmail address on the Twitter account. So I wrote on Friday morning. I’m still waiting for a reply.
Anyway, here is the report produced by Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. However you look at it, it is a remarkable document.
It suggests that the Welsh language is racist and the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are both run by white supremacists.
There are ten references in the report to these organisations being ‘white-led’. But in a country that is 95% or more white does the writer expect them to be non-white-led? That would make them grotesquely unrepresentative.
There are also references to Black Lives Matter, reminding us that the report is very much of the post-Floyd era. Summed up perhaps with this paragraph from page 24: ‘One participant asked how Amgueddfa Cymru could see itself as combating poverty, when it’s very purpose involved displaying objects from countries whose wealth had been plundered through colonialism.’
No, that is not its ‘very purpose’. What a stupid and insulting thing to say! If Amgueddfa Cymru has a ‘very purpose’ then it’s to celebrate the history of Wales.
But that is not atypical. For a number of times this report comes across as either ignorant of recent Welsh history, or misinformed, or just mischievous. Here’s another example, from page 18.
There is no ‘Welsh Census’, it’s organised by the Office for National Statistics in London. Not so long ago you couldn’t even describe yourself as Welsh on the census form. That’s why I was one of those protesting before the 2001 census.
But the writer of the WAARU report presents the census as more evidence of structural racism within Wales!
Having mentioned the writer, I ask again – who is it? Because there is no name mentioned anywhere in the report. It is anonymous. So why was it accepted? Or to go back to the beginning, why was the WAARU commissioned to write a report?
Are we to believe that out of the 31 rejected applicants there wasn’t one better qualified!
On page 36 we read this passage: ‘Marginalised artists and art workers should receive support to learn different languages, in addition to Welsh. This additional support is necessary because Welsh language policies in current applications can exclude Black and non-Black people of colour’.
What ‘different languages’ are needed in Wales?
The writer is clearly ignorant of the fact that many ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ were brought up speaking Welsh, or else have learnt to speak Welsh.
And while there’s solidarity implied with the term ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ this solidarity is not consistent. Because the Twitter account suggests that non-Black People of Colour might be little better than Uncle Toms.
Finally, most reports end with findings and recommendations. The report from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ends with ‘Our List of Demands’. It sounds almost threatening. Like a kidnappers’ note.
Whoever wrote this report may have legitimate grievances, but they’ve gone about airing those grievances in entirely the wrong way.
The national institutions of Wales exist to reflect and to serve the culture, history, identity, and people of Wales. The Welsh language is central to Welsh identity, and for many centuries served as the identifier of Welshness.
Maybe the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can also remember that.
UPDATE 24.08.2021: Checking the metadata of the three published reports gives Jon Luxton as the author of the Re:cognition report, which is what I would expect. Him or Lu Thomas.
But listed as author for the other two reports are Arts Council of Wales employees.
There are a number of possible explanations for this. Maybe the original documents were converted from MS Word to PDF format at the Arts Council. If so, why? Those chosen to produce these reports were well paid to do so. Was this work at the Arts council deducted from their fees?
Or is there another explanation?
The first report we looked at was produced by Labour Party insiders who carry out research for their comrades. The ‘findings’ are often used to justify legislation and other measures that the ‘Welsh Government’ has already decided on.
I wonder if the ‘Welsh Government’ would pay me to do a survey into the third sector, or housing associations, or tourism . . . or even the ‘Welsh Government’?
The second report told us nothing really except that the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are doing a bad job when it comes to catering for those with disabilities.
Though much of the feedback was about venues, over which the Arts Council may have little or no control. And as for ’empty museums’ . . .
But that will be overlooked because the report gives the ‘Welsh Government’ another stick with which to beat both organisations.
The third report is just a chip-on-the-shoulder, ‘where’s our grants?’ diatribe. To give it credit for being anything more would be to legitimise the anti-Welsh prejudice running through the report.
Whoever commissioned this report must have known in advance the kind of submission they could expect from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Which means that the WAARU was paid to produce exactly that kind of report.
Let’s remind ourselves who heads the two organisations involved.
Phillip George of the Arts Council was previously,‘ Creative Director of the award-winning production company Green Bay Media which specialised in high-end documentary projects for broadcasters in Wales’.
He left Green Bay on March 31, 2016, when he was appointed to the Arts Council. At that time, Green Bay had 14 outstanding charges (loans, etc) with S4C and Finance Wales.
Phillip George re-joined Green Bay on June 30, 2017, as secretary, though I suppose he could have been acting as a director.
The next development came on July 24, 2018, when all 14 outstanding charges were cleared. The company’s registered address was changed on the same day.
On January 14, 2019, a Declaration of Solvency was made and a liquidator appointed. Green Bay was finally struck off May 19, 2020. With George still listed as secretary.
Were those debts really cleared, or were they written off, or was some other arrangement agreed? And why was Phillip George allowed to re-join Green Bay while serving as Chair of the Arts Council?
I don’t know Phillip George’s politics, but here he is with former Labour MP Kim Howells. Does he share Howells’ attitudes to the Welsh language, devolution / independence?
Prior to taking up the post Amgueddfa Cymru chief Roger Lewis was CEO at that most BritNat and Unionist of organisations, the Welsh Rugby Union.
It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union that’s getting the media attention, and quite rightly so, so let’s give it a few final thoughts.
Although the report ostensibly deals with the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru, by questioning the role of the Welsh language and perceptions of Welsh identity its impact goes well beyond those two institutions.
Doing it from an ethnic minority perspective is clever, because attacking Welsh identity from a BritNat position invariably generates resistance. It’s much smarter to use the race angle, and maybe get some liberals and socialists onside.
Which makes it difficult to pin down the origin of this survey. Because if someone is trying to introduce Critical Race Theory into Welsh public life, for the disruptive effect it guarantees, then that source could be Marxist left or Unionist right.
Whatever the source, if enough people can be persuaded that defending Welshness is ‘racist’, then this will impact negatively on the growing interest in Welsh independence. The ‘racist’ slander can even be used against those demanding action on holiday homes.
Where does it end?
Maybe campaigning against Tryweryn was ‘racist’. And perhaps it’s ‘racism’ that sustains our national sporting teams. Why not just merge with England and join in singing GSTQ at Wembley and Twickers?
No one should be publicly funded to question a nation’s existence. Both bodies must explain why they chose the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.
We, who’ve paid for it, are entitled to know who wrote the WAARU report.
Finally, perhaps the real lesson from this fiasco is that Wales must have independence. Not just from England, but also from Cardiff Bay.
♦ end ♦