Style guru Wayne Hemingway believes Perth’s City of Culture bid will be the springboard to a transformation of the city.
“It is the right thing to bid for the City of Culture, it shows the city has ambition,” the designer said on Thursday during a whistle-stop tour of Perth.
“Culture is the biggest driver of regeneration in the world. It would be great if Perth won but it is not just about that, it is what it will do. It will galvanise the community — good things will come out of it.”
Mr Hemingway, who has agreed to act as a technical advisor to the Perth City Development Board, said he had been involved in a successful bid by Londonderry which he said had been “an amazing journey”.
“This genuinely is not about winning but the taking part.”
Mr Hemingway, who was accompanied by development board chairman John Bullough and Councillor John Kellas, chatted with shoppers yesterday as he explained his commitment to the task ahead.
“I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t excited,” he said.
“At my stage of life and career I have a lot of options. You pick and choose, weigh them up, but I like Perth.
“I was here just over a year ago giving a talk and I got to know it a little bit.
“It is a city with potential and it understands its potential.”
The vision of the council and the board to create a cultural quarter and to breathe new life into the city hall as a visitor attraction, showed that, he said.
Mr Hemingway said the key to vibrancy was to look beyond the centre as a shopping attraction.
“Shopping is part of it, but only part of it. In the future city centres will be about people coming to celebrate, to have coffee, dance, watch a film, take in culture, put on events and mix with humanity. Shops will do better anyway if this happens.
“Shopping for shopping sake will never come back on the same scale (as it used to be).”
Mr Hemingway and his extensive team will now be engaging with the board and the council to hone some of the ideas he has to shape Perth’s future.
Mr Bullough said Mr Hemingway’s advice and expertise would be “invaluable” and that they were all agreed that culture was the “conduit to spark off the Perth city plan”.
Mr Kellas said Mr Hemingway’s involvement was quite provocative and said he would “challenge the staid approach of the council”.