Bernadette Williamson, Gypsy/Traveller activist and Community Development Worker.
What are the origins of Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month?
Since 2016 Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month (GRTHM), an annual celebration of the history, cultures and traditions of these communities, has been developing and growing in Scotland. The concept, originated in London in 2001, has quickly gained momentum and in an effort to keep that going through the Covid-19 lockdown the GRTHM.scot website has been developed. Peter Ross, community arts worker for MECOPP’s Gypsy/Traveller Carers’ Project says: “Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month is going from strength to strength and this year’s programme bears that out. Although the lockdown means we can’t have any gatherings or public events, the contributors have ensured that this year’s offering is hugely interesting and entertaining and will appeal to Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller communities and the general public alike”.
Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Scotland.
What does this year’s programme consist of?
This year’s programme has a wide range of offerings from videos, created from the archives of Perth Museum and Art Gallery, and podcasts, including one with the well known writer and storyteller Jess Smith, to art exhibitions and seminars. Lynne Tammi, from Article 12 in Scotland, says: “I’ve been involved with Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month since 2016 and am delighted that, despite the times we find ourselves living in, even more events will be happening this year, albeit virtually. Thanks must go to Peter Ross from MECOPP and Gil Gillies from Article 12 in Scotland for their hard work and commitment to making this series of virtual events happen”.
Gypsy/Travellers posed in a group in their encampment, July 1933. (Perth Museum and Art Gallery, D Wilson Laing Collection, 1933.0996) Copyright Perth & Kinross Council.
What is the aim of GRTHM?
The aim of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month is to promote greater understanding and recognition of the richness of GRT traditions in music, storytelling and crafts and to celebrate their contribution to rural and urban economies and to the cultural life of Scotland and Europe. Photographer and Gypsy/Traveller activist, Shannon MacDonald says: “I really value my culture and I think it’s really important to share it so that our traditions can be kept alive. History month is a really good celebration of our culture and people”.
A line of pickers with full pails, waiting for their fruit to be weighed, July 1933. (Perth Museum and Art Gallery, D Wilson Laing Collection, 1933.0995) Copyright Perth & Kinross Council.
Why did you choose a .scot domain for the GRTHM website?
Our events focus on the Gypsy Roma Traveller communities in and of Scotland. Having a .scot domain helps highlight this and reinforces our commitment to sharing the talents and traditions of these communities.