7 July 2000
Artists paint picture of farming plight

By Johann Tasker

ARTISTS and hill farmers have formed an unlikely partnership in a bid to show to urban Britain the plight of producers hit by the agricultural crisis.

The first in a series of forums to discuss the response of artists to farming crisis was held Myerscough Agricultural College, Lancashire, on Thursday (6 July).

Farmers and artists involved believe the arts could help make farming more accessible and help explain the agricultural crisis to the urban-based population.

They aim to identify new funding sources that might assist small farmers and rural communities in a bid to secure off-farm money to help restructure agriculture.

The initiative is the brainchild of Ian Hunter, director of an artist-led agency for projects linking art, the environment and social issues.

Mr Hunter described the project as a “a meeting of two extraordinary traditions”.

Bobbi Davy, spokeswoman for the Hill Farming Initiative, said: “We must stop thinking of people in towns as the enemies of people in the country.

“These are the people that give farmers the money that enables us to keep the countryside. Its not a popular thing to say but it is the truth.”

Lancashire hill farmer Henry Bainbridge, who has lived in the Forest of Bowland all his life, said the initiative would help preserve agricultures rich heritage.

Aileen McEvoy, deputy director of North-West Arts Board, said that contrary to common thinking there were many parallels between the arts and farming.

“We are both subject to a lot of misleading media coverage,” she said.

Michael Hart, chairman of the Small and Family Farms Alliance, said: “As an industry we need to work with other sectors to help get our message across.”