Leaving the European Union would have a huge impact on our everyday lives, including language and culture. Up until now, it hasnít had much attention in the debate so here are some examples of how Wales is affected.
There are over sixty regional and minority languages in the EU, some of which are at serious risk of extinction. The EU provides huge support to them, including Welsh, of course.
The Creative Europe programme helped fund the widely and critically acclaimed crime drama series Hinterland/Y Gwyll. It was shot back to back in Welsh and English and has been sold to more than thirty countries and is available worldwide on Netflix. Its third series received 500,000 euros from the EU. The funding has helped boost Ceredigionís economy as well, with research showing that filming the first series brought £1 million to the local economy.
Creative Europe also supports film festivals, including the Cymru and Contemporary World Cinema in Galeri, Caernarfon, as part of Ffilm Cymru Wales.
Many people will have heard of Interreg, the Wales-Ireland cross border programme. Interreg funded something called the Welsh and Irish Speech Processing Resources, developing language technologies for Welsh and Irish and linking the Language Technologies Unit at Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor, and Trinity College, Dublin. Interreg has been crucial in strengthening our links with Ireland and will be more important in future. We want to build partnerships not borders with Ireland.
Anyone who has visited the Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh Language and Heritage Centre in Pen Llyn will agree that it is a unique and very special place. An abandoned village was transformed into an incredible learning centre where you can immerse yourself in the Welsh language, surrounded by some of the very best views in Wales. The EU helped with funding for Nant Gwrtheyrn too.
Why am I drawing attention to this now? Because we canít afford to lose this EU support. Whatever happens in the coming months, the Welsh Government must ensure that Wales still takes part in these projects. Culture policy is devolved to Wales, and given the importance of culture to our economy, this should be a priority.
Countries outside the EU like Iceland, Serbia, Norway and Tunisia take part in EU culture programmes, so there is no reason why Wales canít do the same. Wales has benefitted from EU membership and we have also been one of the leading countries in terms of language policy and development. Neither Wales nor the EU afford to lose our contribution to ďUnity in DiversityĒ.