We are delighted to announce that Welsh National Opera has achieved a HIV Awareness Chartermark by Positive Allies, which acknowledges the Company as a friendly and inclusive environment for people living with HIV and AIDS.
We joined Cardiff’s journey towards achieving zero HIV transmissions by 2030 in 2021, when we began a collaborative project with Fast Track Cardiff, inspired by the AIDS Quilt Songbook which was created by American baritone William Parker in 1992. As a Company that places the community at its heart, the aim of the project is to create a set of songs which explore the stories of individuals living with HIV in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan today. The project began with a creative workshop day for over 160 Year 10 students at Cardiff West Community High School, which included sessions with writer and activist Mercy Shibemba, playwright and actor Nathaniel J Hall and representatives from Fast Track Cardiff. The student’s reaction to these sessions created the lyrics to the first song in the songbook, We learn, we know, we understand. In 2022, the project continued and saw Mercy collaborate with Welsh singer songwriter Eädyth Crawford and WNO Vocal Intern Aliyah Wiggins to create the second song, All These Dreams, which is about finding your voice and discovering yourself.
Internally, work was being carried out by WNO’s Inclusion and Diversity Taskforce. By February 2022 HIV and AIDS Awareness training by Positive Allies had been offered to staff and by the end of the year 20 individuals had participated and completed the training. Following the inspiring training, we introduced HIV Champions to ensure that the Company has a HIV inclusive environment for staff while continuing to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS. We now have a HIV and AIDS Staff Policy in place and our Dignity at Work policy has been updated to include zero tolerance of victimisation, harassment, bullying or discrimination of any kind towards anyone living with HIV or AIDS. Literature is readily available around the Company and an internal programme of events has been curated to raise HIV and AIDS awareness and reduce stigma.
We are pleased that our work has been recognised by the Positive Allies HIV Awareness Chartermark and invite other organisations to join the journey towards achieving zero HIV transmissions by 2030.