Using art to show farmings struggle
By Isabel Davies
HILL farmer lobby group the Hill Farming Initiative is hoping that 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. The Art Council of England has already said it accepts in principle their proposal
"Getting farming rehabilitated is what this is all about," said HFI spokeswoman Bobbi Davy, who believes that to win the general publics sympathy it must show the plight of Britains hard hit hill farmers through art and photography.
"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."
By involving the public in what is going on, farmers will receive a much needed psychological boost and it will also allow them to draw down additional funding from arts, social and cultural sources, she said.
The strategy will build on the success of schemes like the Art Barns Project which was developed in consultation with hill farmers and rural agencies in the Forest of Bowland.
While she admits it is new territory, Ms Davy believes the idea should not be dismissed.
Ten years ago people were suspicious when it was suggested farmers should be able to access environmental funds but now that was accepted.
"We managed to get agricultural funds widened to environmental funds. Now we want to widen them again to community and culture," she said. *