LAND Responses: Case Study - Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

And Now: | Wayfaring | Inside Out Dorset 2018 | Photo: Sarah Hickson

As part of our series of LAND Responses we asked participants how LAND had impacted them as artists, individuals and/or their organisations in relation to our projects aims, outcomes and benefits.

For this edition, we take an in-depth look at the responses from one of LAND’s key environmental land partners in the UK so see how key outcomes and benefits impact at a national and strategic level together with changes and achievements on a more regional and personal level.

The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (DAONB) is one of a family of 46 AONBS across the UK, for which the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) is the collective voice.  Together they work to protect, conserve and enhance these landscapes together with engaging with the communities that live in them.

The NAAONB and DAONB participated in LAND at different levels, and we asked three key members of these organisations their responses to this participation:

  • Howard Davies, CEO, NAAONB  - Speaker at both seminars and organisation was a key partner in the Lifecycles and Landscapes project - Wayfaring at Oerol 2019
  • Tom Munro, Manager, DAONB  - Speaker at the Seminar: Lifecycles & Landscapes in 2018 and key regional partner in the Audience Development programme with Activate Performing Arts.  Represented NAAONB in project steering role.
  • Sue Dampney, Culture Community & Learning Officer, DAONB  - Attended the Seminar: LAND at Oerol 2019 and delivery partner in the Audience Development programme with Activate.  Sue also works on a national level with the NAAONB.

Q: Through participation in the LAND project, have you developed new or strengthened existing relationships with artists, producers and/or other environmental organisations.  

Howard: All stages of this developing relationship with the arts has deepened our individual and organisational understanding of the power of art in a land stewardship context, and indeed the power of land stewardship in art. Our relationship with Activate Performing Arts is becoming more collaborative, our relationships with likeminded people in other organisations such as the National Trust has been strengthened, and our exposure to new relationship with artists and producers as a product of our involvement has widened our perspective on the relationship between art and land management.

Sue: My trip to Oerol Festival has given me an ambition to work at a bigger scale than I have done in the past in terms of the scale of networks and the reach of our work.

Q: What has been the impact of the LAND project on your organisation in relation to developing experiences and connections with visitors / audiences?

Tom: The fantastic feedback we’ve received as a result of the installations and events that were delivered in Dorset through LAND has impressed on us the importance of initiatives which help people develop an emotional connection with place. 

Sue: Oerol Festival bolstered my understanding that there can be so much common ground between artists and environmentalists and we need to make more of their unique ability to communicate complex environmental issues and themes. The emotional connection that they evoke in their audience is something that few land managers can achieve! 

Q: Has your participation impacted you and/or your organisations skills and understanding of working with arts in the natural landscapes and associated specialist artists and arts producers. 

Howard: Our participation has improved our understanding of how and why we might work with the arts in our role as land stewards. This technical insight has given us the confidence to support a significant artistic project celebrating AONBs across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and commission the poet laureate, Simon Armitage, to work with us to compose and read a poem in celebration of beautiful landscapes.

Q: Are there any key significant things you have learnt, shared or discovered through being part of the LAND project?

Howard: The insight driven by quality art can energise, motivate, and trigger action.

Tom: We have been sharing our experiences and learnings with those in the AONB family who have little experience working with artists, encouraging them to get involved and to take gentle steps to build their confidence and understanding.

Sue: I feel like I have a much better understanding of what makes artists and arts organisations tick and will be much more confident in these collaborations in the future. I plan to develop these collaborations further both in the Dorset AONB when planning new bids and nationally with strategic work.

Q: What might the legacy be of the project for you and your organisation?

Tom: LAND has helped the AONB family develop this understanding, and as a result all AONBs have signed up to the Colchester Declaration – a statement of intent for nature – which includes the commitment to “enable an approach that creates opportunities within AONBs for people to make an emotional connection with nature”.

We have also included within the statutory AONB Management Plan 2019-2024 a policy (D4c) which states “Cultural initiatives, opportunities and organisations are embedded in delivery”.

Sue: Our small grant bid to Arts Council England has been successful and will allow us to work with arts and landscape organisations to develop a long term strategy, action plan and pilot some training for land managers. Without my trip to Oerol Festival providing the time, space and bringing our minds together, this initiative would still be on our wishlist.

I have a new energy to work with our local arts organisations and to help other AONBs to develop these relationships and artistic experiences too.

Key outcomes:

  • Arts and culture is now included in AONB landscapes strategic planning at a regional and national level
  • A commitment to delivering work with artists
  • All AONBs have signed up to the Colchester Declaration
  • The AONB team have instigated their own funding applications for further work in this area
  • Increased confidence across the AONB team, regionally and nationally, to work with artists together with increased understanding and knowledge of this field of work.
  • A enhanced opportunity for arts and land stewards to COLLABORATE

Landscapes are fragile places of deep meaning, that underpin our own identity.  They change, and will always change, just like the people that form them and are part of them.  We need ways to help us all connect with place, it is a deep and fundamental need – the arts bring with them the skills, experience, creativity and imagination to help make this happen.’ Howard Davies, NAAONB

Click to find out more about the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Click to find out more about the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Workt title: LAND Responses: Case Study - Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Country: UK

Type: Project Results