Welcome to the first newsletter from Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD).

We have hit the ground running working towards using culture and heritage to encourage younger people to live and work in the Lakes and Dales. I have enjoyed an incredibly busy but very rewarding first few months. Whilst much of that time has been spent planning, researching, mapping and commissioning, we’ve been busy attending, hosting and supporting events. I have also met loads of amazing people and discovered a myriad of culture and creativity across the area. We’re looking forward to a full diary for summer and beyond and I hope to continue to share our GPLD vision and meet up with many more of you.

The creative industries are the engine of our Great Place and we need to help realise the benefits arts and culture can bring to our economy and younger people. Energising and creating new ways to work, developing new business models and influencing new collaborative partnerships are at the heart of our strategy. Unlocking the power and creativity of our younger communities will be pivotal to steering our narrative and helping create imaginative and resourceful inter-generational spaces.

We need to identify the cultural, social and economic barriers which have led to 44% fewer 16 to 34-year-olds than the national average in the area. Lots of people have ideas about why this may be and we have initially commissioned an in-depth research investigation to explore the perceptions of younger people towards living and working here. This study, the results of which are due out this autumn, will help us to shape our future work and programme delivery.

We already know that this is massive. Addressing the impact of this staggering statistic won’t happen overnight and it will need tenacity and creativity to succeed. The research will help clarify what needs to be done but importantly ascertain what younger people actually want to see and experience.  They need respect, space to be and create but also to shout – we will only hear them if we properly listen.

We need to be relevant and resonate. Being bold and innovative, experimental and exploratory with an outward looking focus is vital. But we also need to be hands on with strong messages, focus and inspiring content. GPLD wants to continue to encourage fresh ideas, new generations’ interpretations of the past, exploit their resilience and add value to our great natural, heritage and cultural assets. We can only fully realise this if we are able to retain and recruit those younger people.

The wider Great Place: Lakes and Dales team has just been recruited and includes specialists in various fields including placemaking, creative economy, business relations and digital growth. We call them our creative consultants, who through targeted planning, team working, a shared vision and candid and passionate conversations will work to engage the creative and business communities to help address individual issues. This will ultimately help ensure GPLD leaves a lasting and sustainable legacy and future generations inherit strong cultural institutions and progressions.

We are at the start of an exciting journey and I am already inspired and delighted to hear lots of stories from younger people (some featured in this newsletter) who are already making their home in the area, with a dash of entrepreneurialism and a hefty dose of commitment and energy – the Lakes and Dales really are a special place. I believe passionately that this is the place to be, let’s celebrate it, nurture it, grow it and most importantly let’s enjoy it.  Please keep on getting in touch with your ideas!

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