Hill farmers target art and culture fund
By Isabel Davies
HILL farmer lobby group the Hill Farming Initiative is hoping a new cultural strategy will open up alternative sources of funding to help cash-strapped farmers.
Art, photography and web-based projects are among the ideas the group hopes will draw the attention of the general public to what is happening in the hills.
And the HFI is waiting for confirmation that bids for funding from bodies like the Arts Council and Regional Development Boards have been successful.
Bobbi Davy, HFI spokeswoman, believes that it can win public sympathy by showing the plight of Britains hard hit hill farmers through art and photography.
Getting farming rehabilitated is what this is all about, she said, adding that the Art Council of England had already said it accepted their proposal in principle.
Farming is never going to be any higher on the governments list until people in towns and cities are on our side and we have their sympathy.
Farmers will be boosted by involving the public which will allow them to draw down funding from arts, social and cultural sources, said Ms Davy.
The strategy will build on schemes like the Art Barns Project, developed in consultation with hill farmers and rural agencies in the Forest of Bowland.
The project made use of derelict barns in the Lake District to draw attention to the changing nature of rural areas and help highlight the farming crisis.
Ten years ago people were suspicious when it was suggested farmers should be able to access environmental funds but now that was accepted, Ms Davy said.
We managed to get agricultural funds widened to environmental funds. Now we want to widen them again to community and culture.