Farm Cultural Park is an art gallery and exhibition space located in Favara, Sicily in Italy. Farm Cultural Park opened in 2010, when Andrea Bartoli and his wife Florinda Saieva bought several buildings in the semi-abandoned city centre of Favara and renovated them completely, creating an independent cultural centre that now hosts expositions, exhibitions by international and local artists, politically charged artwork, along with shops, a garden bar, cultural events, talks, screenings and workshops.
The main aim of the project is to save the old centre of Favara and give the city, previously known mostly for its general decrepitude and for having one of Italy’s highest unemployment rates, by giving it a new life through art.
Back then, Favara was an unlucky town of 30,000 people, more often known for mafia activity and fugitives. We felt a strong need to make our city more beautiful not only for ourselves but above all for our little girls, Carla and Viola’, recalls Andrea. ‘We like to call it an “Urban Lung”, as it gives oxygen to the city and its citizens.
On Human Cities they write about the project:
”The key players are Andrea Bartoli and Florinda Saleva, the founders of Farm Cultural Park. Another crucial group of actors is composed of all the artists that participate to transform the public space by experimenting several types of creative residency within the town. In addition, residents of Favara are protagonists of this initiative because they contribute in welcoming visitors and artists, making the place pleasant and comfortable. Among the citizens, there is a group known as FUN (Favara Urban Network) formed by young volunteers that contribute in animating the town centre. Later, some other friends join Andrea and Florinda in financing the town centre restoration, creating a sort of philanthropic community to support Farm Cultural Park.”
In a way, Farm Cultural Park makes a quite explicit use of design, because everything is designed, at different scales: from the buildings to the objects, to the signage, to the food, etc. Design is combined with art and architecture, without clear boundaries and this is an holistic perspective that is applied to the whole town centre of Favara.
The challenges are still huge for the Farm and also for Favara. But it has created a new identity as a small capital of urban regeneration and has outlined a possible way forward. During these 7 years, many things have changed in Favara: the city is resuscitated, young people no longer leave but come from outside, the economy has woken up, in a place where no tourist travelled before not even by mistake, more than 100,000 tourists have visited per year for the last two years in a row.
The three most frequent words of our visitors are: surprise, genius, future. When you arrive at the Farm, you immediately breathe a “dimension of possibilities” and you immediately wonder whether what you are experiencing in Favara is not also possible in your own little town or in a neighbourhood of your city.
“With the economic crisis and a poor public disposition for undertaking urban regeneration and territorial requalification, many historic centres are falling apart while most of the suburbs of big cities are devoid of places of a cultural-social nature. There is no vision for the future of our country, and above all, for how to make our cities nicer and better places to live’, underlines Andrea. ‘We are therefore seeking a solution that will allow us to consolidate the experience of a model of urban and social regeneration that is constantly transforming and at the same time can provide practical and useful tools for anyone who, in the public or private sphere, wants to undertake a similar pathway in their own cities.”