Organisations Promoting Cornish
Gorseth Kernow: The Goresedd of Cornwall
The Gorseth was founded in 1928 on the model of those already established in Wales and Brittany. It acted originally as the chief centre for language revival and came to produce examinations for language learners until this function was taken on by a specially constituted Language Board. It conducts an annual ceremony at which bards are received for proficiency in the language and conspicuous services to Cornish language, culture and life. There is only one order of admission, quite deliberately to avoid distinctions of grade and hierarchy. Proclamations are also celebrated at other major cultural events. The Grand Bard is generally a distinguished figure in the language movement appointed for three years.
The principal sources of income are the bard's annual subscriptions. The Gorseth has promoted language and literary activities through both Unified and more recently Kemmyn varieties. Since last year it has admitted Late and Modern Cornish for its competition entries. It has also recently issued a book of prayers for Cornwall produced in all three language varieties. It has thus become an important institution which gives recognition to each form of the revived language.
Kesva An Taves Kernewek: The Cornish Language Board
In 1967 the Gorseth and the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies set up the board to be an independent language-planning and examining authority. A revised constitution in 1982 now constitutes 21 members, 15 of whom are elected from the body of speakers (Kowethas), two each from the Gorseth and Old Cornwall Federation, and one member each from the County Council and University of Plymouth.
Its turnover last year was in excess of £15,000. Its principal income has been a grant of £5,000 over five years from the County Council, augmented by a grant this year of £3,000 from the new language-fund. There have also been grants from: Heritage Lottery Fund; the Duke of Cornwall's Fund for a dictionary; the European Commission for a grammar, and from Caradon and Carrick District Councils for purchase of computers. In 1987 the Board adopted the Kemmyn form as its standard. It has, however, pledged to provide its services and to make its examinations available in the continuing Unified Unys language-variety.
Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek: The Cornish Language Fellowship
This is the members' organisation for the Kemmyn language-variety. Established in 1987, it aims to promote Cornish in everyday life. It organises the annual Goel an Yeth. This has grown out of the original weekends Penseythun Kernewek, and for some years has been attracting between 200 - 300 users and learners of Cornish. The organisation promoted Dythyow Lowender (Fun Days), and Yeth an Werin (Language of the People) - social meetings in pubs, etc. These events are now largely autonomous and self-organising.
There are also links with other Celtic-speaking organisations. Kowethas acts as publisher for books printed in Kemmyn, apart from grammars, dictionaries and other language-resource material, and books in English about the language. It has a current list of some 124 titles. The organisation works on an annual turnover of approximately £10,000.
With the use of Cornish as a family language, Dalleth was established in 1979 to provide support, develop language materials for children learning the language, and to press for bilingual education and nursery provision. There were about six families at that time who were using the language in the home and raising children bilingually. It has been reported to us that there are approximately 12 such children who have become 'native speakers' in this way.
Agan Tavas: Our Language
This body was formed in 1986 to organise speakers using Nance’s Unified Cornish. Originally it was by invitation of fluent speakers only. With the tripartite split it continued in the form of an existing organisation staying with the original revived form of the language. In 1990 it was reformed on an open membership basis. Its aims are to ensure continued support for Unified Cornish, it organises events, supports classes and campaigns for language use. It has an organising council Consel Agan Tavas, and aims at 'including Kemmyn and Nowedja users in an inclusive and open way.' Postal tuition is provided, together with a website with internet learning.
Agan Tavas runs a magazine on a quarterly basis which is mainly in Unified Cornish. There is also some English content. It reached its 12th issue in 1999. There is also a literary magazine, Delyow Derow (Oak Leaves), which has been operating since 1988.
Cussel An Tavas Kernuack: The Cornish Language Council
This is the authority for the Late or Modern Cornish language-variety. It bases this on the writings dated between 1558-1776, and aims at standardisation within the middle of that period. It has five members representing language specialists, teachers and users. It undertakes research, publishes grammars, dictionaries and language resources. It is funded by its members and voluntary donations. It has recently been assisted by a grant from the County Council language-fund for the production of a language-course.
Teer Ha Tavaz: Land and Language
This is the members' organisation for the Modern or Late form of the language. It acts as an imprimatur for publications and as a centre for language-related activities. Cornish language classes are organised at Truro and St. Austell Colleges and financed as further education classes. Postal tuition is also undertaken. It was formed in 1986, and has recently been assisted by a £1,000 grant for evening classes' needs.
Cornish Sub-Committee of the UK Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages
This body reports to the UK Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used languages. The sub-committee was set up in 1995, and its 20 or so members represent all branches of the language-movement, together with other organisations having an interest in the language such as the County and District Councils, the Gorseth and Old Cornwall movements. Prior to the inception of the Sub-committee, the UK Committee had supported the applications for EU grant funding from DGXXII for the publication of Ken George's dictionary and Wella Brown's grammar ( £3,000 each). The Sub-Committee is an important institution as it provides a forum for all aspects of the language movement - and is one of the very few institutions to do so.
Cultural Organisations Featuring the Cornish Language
Esethvos Kernow: The Eisteddfod of Cornwall
This is a triennial festival of Cornish language literature, music and culture. Formed on a similar basis to the Welsh Eisteddfod, it is held in various centres throughout Cornwall and involves many Cornish organisations across and beyond the language scene.
The Celtic Congress
This longstanding organisation, whose roots go back to the early days of the language revival, is represented by a Cornish Branch. This year the annual congress of the whole organisation is to meet in Bude and North Cornwall Council has assisted this with a grant.
Celtic Film and Television Festival
This organisation was formed in Scotland in the late 1970s. It is still headquartered there- but has active branches in all the Celtic countries. It has greatly stimulated the production of Cornish-language films and video. The 18th annual festival was held in Cornwall for the first time in 1997. The Golden Torc award was won by a Cornish-language production: Splatt dhe Wertha (Plot for Sale) which was produced by Wild West Films. These efforts have been assisted by EU DGXXII, West Cornwall Film Fund, and Lottery sources. Video and Film production has been stimulated by these activities, and there are two other organisations involved in Cornish language film production: A38 Films and WestCountry Films.
Lowender Peran: The Joy of Perran
This now week long folk festival at Perranporth has been organised since 1978. Strongly featuring Cornish language and traditional culture it also has a strongly international dimension. Cornish is used as a platform language at all events and there is a Cornish language day. Four out of its six directors are Cornish speakers. The events include visiting performers and groups from the other Celtic countries.
The festival is a showcase for Cornish traditional music and dance, and a major opportunity for Cornish speakers to get together socially and culturally. Organised around it is voluntary work in schools, and the festival has led to the production of a Cornish dance video and book. It attracts about 3,000 visitors and is viewed as an important means of extending the tourist season in Perranporth into mid-October.
The organisation is constituted as a limited company with charitable status. It has attracted funding of approximately £2,000 in recent years (£200 from the parish council, £1,600 from Carrick District, £250 from Cornwall County Council).
Cornish Music Projects
This is a small business partnership which has operated since 1998 and is run on a commercial basis. It is involved with Cornish language and music activities in schools, networking with other organisations to promote music workshops and performance events. These activities are supported by a research programme into Cornish traditional music material, and the production of books and recordings. The organisation has obtained grants from a range of sources (e.g. from Directory of Social Change) and has received funding from the County Council, Regional Arts Lottery Fund (with Cornish Music Guild), and the Elm Grant Trust. The two partners are involved in other performing groups and bands.
Verbal Arts Cornwall - Awen (Inspiration)
This was formed in 1993. It is active in support for Cornish language and dialect in schools; and in wider community activities at Cornish language events, writing projects, theatre events, poetry and verse. It has developed active links with the Cornish diaspora and other Celtic countries. Assisted by South West Arts, it aims to become a self-financing business.
Cornish Dance Society
This was formed in the nineties to promote Cornish dance and customs, organises events and workshops, publishes a newsletter and hires costume. It acts as an umbrella organisation for Cornish dance sides - which include those with a Cornish-language person (e.g. Asteveryn, Otta ny Moaz, Tan ha Dowr). Although not specifically a language organisation, it nevertheless supports the language and culture in various ways.
Cornish Music Guild
As a parallel to the Dance Society the Music Guild has an important co-ordinating function and supports various traditional music groups which do have a more specifically language-oriented performance policy (e.g. Dalla, Sowena, Bolingey Troyl Band, etc.) Formed in 1987, it has charitable status and operates on an annual budget of approximately £2,000. It aims to promote Cornish music and composers and a greater use of Cornish material - especially in Cornish music and dance. Cornish language has been used for calling at traditional dance and Cornish language events.
Organisations in Political and Public Life
This organisation was formed as a political lobby for Cornwall in 1951. It attracted support from across the political spectrum and beyond. Most of Cornwall's MPs were members. When it became a political party it lost these affiliations. It has always given a place to the language in its programmes, as it was originally formed by language bards and others prominent in the language movement. It has a quarterly magazine and branches throughout Cornwall.
The Celtic League
This Inter-Celtic political
forum is represented by a Cornwall branch. The League and its Cornish Branch
were both formed in 1961. The objectives of the organisation are self-rule for
the Celtic nations, the promotion of their languages and cultural and political
self-determination. Lobbies and language campaigns have been undertaken. There
is an Inter-Celtic quarterly magazine CARN which has regularly featured Cornish
language articles since its inception in the early 1970s. These articles have
in recent years been accepted in any recognised form of Cornish. The League
has very slender resources and receives no third party funding.
Cornwall County Council
The Council has an arts officer who is a Cornish speaker and who undertakes a co-ordinating function for Cornish language. She maintains an information source on Cornish language organisations. The Council has recently adopted a framework policy of support for the language and it has circulated all the District Councils seeking its joint adoption. This has been forthcoming for Carrick, Kerrier, Penwith and North Cornwall Councils. In the present financial year, Cornwall County Council has initiated a Cornish Language Fund: initially of £5,000. This has been used to support efforts in all the language-varieties: £3,000 going to Kemmyn initiatives, and £1,000 to each of the others.
The four Councils that have adopted the County framework policy for Cornish language will be invited to send representatives to the Cornish Sub-Committee of the European Bureau. Two (Penwith and Carrick) have produced supportive action for Cornish signage Although it has not yet ratified the County policy, Caradon has funded a Cornish language class for its employees, while Carrick has produced a newsletter in Cornish.
Cornish Bureau for European Relations (Cober)
CoBER exists to make available to Cornish organisations information relating to Europe. It has been involved in a variety of initiatives including the designation of long-distance paths and waymarking, with European assistance (e.g. The Saints' Way). It has a Cornish language profile and is represented on the Cornish sub-committee of EBLUL.
Organisations using Cornish in Communications Media
Cornish Language Films
As noted above these are chiefly represented by Wild West Films, A38 Films and WestCountry Films. The first of these has been assisted with funding from European sources, West Cornwall Film Fund and Lottery sources. In recent years it has produced four specifically Cornish language productions and another which also features the language.
Cornish language has been used in broadcasting by two stations in Cornwall: BBC Radio Cornwall and Pirate FM. Radio Cornwall currently carries a short Cornish language magazine programme and news in Cornish on Sundays.
Organisations Promoting Cornish in Retail
An Lyverji Kernewek: The Cornish Bookshop
This is located in Helston, and was established in 1997. Start-up capital was a combination of a small-business loan, mortgage, and overdraft facility. It is now virtually paying its way. There are facilities for workshop, publishing and meetings on the premises. The enterprise holds the bookstock of the Cornish Language Board and Kowethas. It retails these together with Cornish interest books and promotional material.
Gwynn Ha Du: White and Black
This shop is located in Liskeard. It aims to promote Cornish language, show Cornish books to the public, and act as a focus and shop-window for the language. Its start-up capital was very small (chiefly donated as gifts) and it relied initially on voluntary work in its initial phase between 1998 and January 2000. It now has a full-time manager and New Deal funding. All accounts and records are kept in Cornish, and telephones answered in the language. The initiative has been developed through Kowethas an Yeth.
This is a private sector one-person enterprise. The shop is on one of St Just's main streets. It sells Cornish language and language interest books in English together with crafts with a specifically 'all made in Cornwall' sales policy. It was established in May 1999 with self-found start-up capital.
Organisations Promoting and Using Cornish in Religious Life
Bishop of Truro's Ecumenical Advisory Group on Services in Cornish
This body was set up in 1974. Although an Anglican initiative, Methodist and Catholic interests are specifically included as the chief denominations providing worship in Cornish. It has a very slender working budget. There are now at least eleven formally-organised services in Cornish held annually - with other services such as Carol and Harvest Services '. Additionally through this ecumenical body Cornish-language Catholic liturgy has been developed.
Bredereth San Jago: The Brotherhood of Saint James
This fellowship was established in 1988 and is principally concerned with organising pilgrimages on an open denominational basis. Its aims and activities encompass concern with Cornish history, saints and placenames and its membership includes speakers and teachers of the language. Its finances are minimal.