Memorandum submitted by the Welsh Language
PROMOTING WALES ABROAD
1. A strategy for the Welsh Language,
published by the Board in December 1996 after extensive consultation
with its partners, contains a list of 20 objectives which must
be met to fulfil the strategy's main aim: "to enable the
Welsh language to be self-sustaining and secure as a medium of
communication in Wales". One of these objectives (Objective
20) is specifically concerned with developments outside Wales:
"To promote and safeguard the interests of the Welsh language
and lesser-used languages in general on the international platform".
Under this objective are listed four specific responsibilities
for the Board itself. Two of these are directly relevant to the
to raise awareness of the Welsh language
outside Wales amongst the media and amongst organisations and
companies operating in Wales whose headquarters or head offices
are outside Wales;
to foster and promote the exchange
of information and experience in the areas of language and culture
between Wales and similar linguistic communities abroad.
2. In The Welsh Language: a Vision and
Mission for 2000-05, which the Board presented in November
1999 to the National Assembly for Wales, the Board gave an unequivocal
commitment to develop its language planning links beyond Wales.
Target 10one of 12 targets listed in the main body of the
documentis specifically concerned with this. It commits
by March 2002, to have formally established
mutually co-operative links with four government minority language
planning institutions in Europe (to include the Basque country
and Ireland); and
by March 2003, to continually monitor
best practice in language planning in minority language communities
to see that lessons can be learnt for Wales.
3. The above references confirm that the
Board's work in promoting the Welsh language and good practice
in language planning disciplines has a firm strategic basis.
4. Given its main statutory function of
promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language, it is
no surprise to learn that this function defines the compass of
the Board's work. Nevertheless, since the Welsh language is the
most unique element in Welsh life, and the only thing which differentiates
Wales very obviously from the rest of the United Kingdom, the
Board would argue that to promote Wales abroad without reference
to its unique language is at the very least a valuable opportunity
5. The Board believes that it has a pioneering
vision to promote and to share, in the wider context of promoting
6. It is the following elements of the vision
and expertise developed in Wales over the past few years which
the Board believes can be of value to other minority language
the Welsh success in creating a bilingual
widespread agreement among Welsh
speakers and non-Welsh speakers in favour of the language;
a favourable climate for developing
broad consensus in favour of the
language across all political parties;
language planning expertise;
pioneering projects in the fields
of language transmission and marketing Welsh medium education,
together with the development of sophisticated marketing techniques
to target the private sector;
ability to adapt practical models
for use in other countries;
a clear vision, flexible and broadminded;
willingness to form partnerships
and to learn from others.
7. In practical terms, the Board's activities
overseas can be divided into four categories:
it accepts invitations:
to take part in discussions/seminars;
to offer advice and share expertise;
to respond to documents; and
to contribute articles;
it seeks to share and disseminate
information by means of:
its main website which attracts
thousands of hits from overseas each month;
the LinkLine to Welsh and ad-hoc
enquiries requesting information on language related matters;
its specific webstite on community
organising conferences; and
by inviting comments on its strategy
it regularly welcomes visitors from
overseas. These have included over the past few years:
fact-finding visits arranged
by the Foreign Office;
visits from overseas government
delegations or journalists arranged by the Welsh Office or the
language planners from other
it co-operates on specific projects
from time to time. Recent examples include:
collaborating with the British
Council, the Wales Tourist Board, S4C and BT to produce a video
to promote Wales;
the Celtic Language Initiative
(CELI) project, in which representatives from four Celtic countries
have collaborated to produce materials to promote bilingual vocational
8. The lack of resources at present prevents
the Board from being as proactive as it would wish, even within
the limits of its declared strategies.
9. The Board would wish to work more closely
and more effectively with key players like the National Assembly,
the Wales Tourist Board, the Welsh Development Agency, the British
Council and others.
10. There are examples of co-operation with
many of these organisations for example:
Membership of the Branding Wales
Group, which led in 1998-99 to the development of guidelines for
promotion of WalesWales the time is now;
The development of the video to promote
Wales mentioned in paragraph 7 above;
participation in trade fairs, for
example in a Welsh Office exhibition in Stuttgart in 1999;
participating in study visits and
conferences at the invitation of organisations including the British
Council, the Council of Europe and others. A list of the Board's
participation in overseas conferences and events over the past
five years is attached (Annex 1).
11. These initiatives, however, have mainly
been of an ad-hoc nature. Because of this there is usually no
opportunity to assess or to follow them up effectively. The Board
therefore believes that to reach the full potential of this type
of activity what is needed above all is a much more co-ordinated
12. A further consequence of the lack of
co-ordination is that the messages which are conveyed about Wales
abroad are not clear or consistent at present. The good work done
by the Branding Wales Group has largely failed to be capitalised
upon because of this lack of consistency in approach.
13. The Board believes that there is a strong
case for developing a mechanism for co-ordinating everyone's efforts.
This mechanism would need to avoid being perceived to be pushing
any individual organisation's agenda. One possibility would be
to set up a working party or steering committee including representatives
of the main bodies. The chairmanship and/or secretariat should
ideally rotate among the partners.
14. This is a perfect opportunity for making
use of the latest technology to save costs. For example, the working
party described in paragraph 13 could feasibly be a "virtual"
working party rather than an actual one. The setting up of a joint
websiteCymru/Wales.com, perhapswould be a valuable
resource, and a cost-effective way of disseminating clear messages
about contemporary Wales throughout the world.
15. Adopting these strategies would, we
believe, also allow better use to be made of existing networks
of Welsh societies and organisations worldwide. The power of the
Welsh language in this context should not be underestimated. The
language remains one of the strongest and most emotive links between
people of Welsh origin and Wales, even if they do not speak the
16. The Cymru a'r Byd (Wales and the World)
association has a database which could be of use to several organisations.
The branches in various countries encompass a wide range of interests.
It could be of benefit to any body or organisation which is arranging
an event in an overseas location to promote Wales to establish
a co-operative relationship with the "local" branch
of Cymru a'r Byd, if one exists, in order to take advantage of
its knowledge and expertise.
17. Along with establishing new networks
and strengthening existing ones, the Board believes it is also
necessary to clarify and define the role of certain key organisations,
such as the British Council and the Wales European Centre. Resources
for the promotion of Wales abroad are limited and finite, and
in order to maximise their effectiveness, there needs to be clear
understanding amongst all relevant parties of their respective
rules and responsibilities.
18. We believe that all overseas marketing
activities by the UK Government should include in all literature
and exhibition material a specific reference to Wales, making
appropriate use of the Welsh language.
19. We also believe that all UK embassies
should include relevant information about Wales, again making
appropriate use of the Welsh language. The Board would be more
than happy to co-operate with the Central Office of Information
(COI) to ensure appropriate use of the language in the Government's
proportional materials in overseas locations and events.
20. The Committee will need to consider
whether such developments might be enhanced through legislation.
The Board would certainly support any moves to strengthen the
statutory means to allow Welsh bodies to promote Wales abroad.
To do this, it would first be necessary to define more clearly
the British/Welsh dimensions and responsibilities. However, the
Board would not at this stage seek any specific legislative changes
in this context, unless there is seen to be a need to amend any
legislation which limits in any way the ability of organisations
to undertake promotional activities overseas.
21. On a more general note, the Board firmly
believes that it is not only overseas that there is a need for
promoting. Wales. Much work needs to be done at home to develop
a self-confidence and pride in the country and its achievements,
which can then be exported to other countries.
Gweran Llwyd Evans
Head of Marketing
18 October 2000