London-based Mr Hemingway, who co-founded the Red or Dead fashion brand in the 1980s before co-founding social design house HemingwayDesign, will seek the ideas of local people at public events in Skipton and Kendal next week to get them involved in staging a major cultural event “of national significance”.
The Morecambe-born designer has signed up as an ambassador for the Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD) initiative that aims to persuade younger people to stay in or move to an area that encapsulates the Craven district of North Yorkshire and extends north all the way to Grasmere in the Lake District.
As reported in The Yorkshire Post earlier this month, a major research study to better understand why fewer young people choose to live and work in that specific countryside corridor locally has been commissioned as part of the GPLD pilot project.
But as well as understanding the trend, the initiative aims to go further and act to address a problem that threatens the future of rural communities.
As a first step, Mr Hemingway will host ‘This is the Place’ meetings which will aim to empower more people to get involved in the future of the area and to encourage their involvement in setting up a “placemaking” project.
The events will be held at Kendal Box Theatre next Monday and at Skipton Town Hall next Tuesday, both starting at 6pm and will feature presentations by Mr Hemingway and Morecambe-based cultural events team Deco Publique, followed by interactive sessions to develop ideas.
Mr Hemingway said: “These two events will be a chance to gather ideas so we want you - its creatives, innovators and pioneers - to be at the heart of planning and shaping the area’s future.
“Let’s consider as a creative community how and what we should develop to deliver an impactful, engaging and exciting cultural event of major regional and national significance next autumn.”
Following confirmation of his ambassadorial role, the designer added: “The area has an incredible 44 per cent fewer 16 to 34-year-olds than the national average so it’s vital more is done to safeguard the future economy.
“So I am proud to support GPLD, which will put the needs and aspirations of younger people front of mind.”
The project is led by Craven District Council and Lindsey Hebden, who manages the project, said she was impressed by Mr Hemingway’s track record of designing successful, cultural community events such as Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe, and the Festival of Making in Blackburn.
She also believes the designer will be an inspiring speaker when he meets the public.
“It’s his passion. He’s very inspirational,” she said.
Asked what impact a community-led cultural event could have locally, Mrs Hebden said: “It’s to get people to take notice, to consider the wealth of skills in the area. The skills are vast, from fashion design to boat making, interior design, digital, music and dancers, jewellery makers, there’s a huge range. There is a real vibrant energy here.”
She said it was clear that affordable housing was an obstacle to young talent staying put and attracting other younger people but the wider project will seek to address some of those bigger issues.
“We can’t change overnight but can work with policy makers to think differently,” Mrs Hebden added.
The Great Place: Lakes and Dales initiative is backed with £1.34m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council until March 2020.
The GPLD intends to capitalise on the Dales’ cultural distinctiveness as well as influence local policy and planning to make the area more attractive for younger people to live and work.
It also involves input from South Lakeland District Council and the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national park authorities. Attracting and retaining young people to the Yorkshire Dales, where the average house price is £253,000, was highlighted as a major socio-economic problem in The Yorkshire Post’s ‘Dales in Crisis’ report earlier this year.