Culture

Paisley 2021 & Beyond

Scottish landmarks illuminate to support Paisley 2021 Pictured Paisley Town Hall and Paisley Abbey Scotland showed its support for Paisleys bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 as the nation’s most iconic landmarks lit up in Paisley 2021 colours to celebrate the milestone. Friday was the deadline for Paisley to submit its second-stage UK City of Culture 2021 bid to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Iconic landmarks across the country lit up in the Paisley 2021 signature red to show their support and mark the occasion. Participating venues included Edinburgh Castle, The Kelpies, University of Glasgow, Dundee’s Caird Hall and Paisley’s own Town Hall. The country-wide celebration followed an emotional send-off in Paisley town centre on Friday where a large crowd joined more than 150 singers from eight local choirs for a mass musical performance of Wild Mountain Thyme led by local singing star Carol Laula. The Renfrewshire town is the only Scottish location to make the final shortlist and the only town to get this far. Paisley’s bid will be considered alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea – with the winner to be announced in December. The bid is part of a wider drive to transform Paisley’s future using its internationally- significant heritage and cultural story – and the send-off follows a massive £45.7m town centre investment package approved by Renfrewshire Council earlier in the week which will prepare the town to host the 2021 title. The investment includes a £22m modernisation of Paisley’s iconic 19 th -century town hall, £10m of public realm and transport improvements in Paisley town centre, £7.7m to upgrade St James Playing Fields to make it suitable for large outdoor events, a £2.5m upgrade to Paisley Arts Centre, and £3.5m to turn the disused Galbraiths warehouse in Back Sneddon Street into a new performance and visual arts space. The bid send-off moment is the latest piece of good news to c

December 7th of last year didn’t quite go to plan for Paisley. After many long months of campaigning, concerts and other public events, the town narrowly missed out in the bid to become the UK’s City of Culture 2021. The mood (which had been electric all night) throughout halls, pubs and homes sank quicker than you could say one word: Coventry.

However, the deflation that spread through the town only stayed for a night.

Losing the title took nothing away from all that Paisley had gained over the last year. The town’s efforts had reminded residents of a glorious past, while suggesting a burgeoning future.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson, who was directly involved in the Paisley 2021 , said: “The bid process was hugely positive for the town, helping to restore civic pride, raise our profile and transform our reputation.”

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Over the years, this small market settlement has made an international name for itself. Paisley became famous for her designs, innovation, activism and entertainment. Shawls donning the Paisley Pattern were sold worldwide and the area produced plenty who campaigned for cases of social justice, fairer employment and education.

Ultimately, the 2021 bid has resurrected the idea that Paisley could, and should, become a cultural hub. Government investments, which will be key to the town’s rejuvenation, have been flowing in.

Most recently, the Paisley Museum (which showcases Paisley’s internationally renowned textiles) received a £4 million funding boost that is expected to draw 125,000 visits a year. On top of that, a £500k investment was revealed several days ago to develop the area’s creative sector. These are just a few examples of the funding that has either already been allotted or promised to the revitalisation of the area.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “Last year’s enhanced events programme helped to drive footfall in the town centre which contributed £2.45 million to the local and visitor economy.

“There is £100 million confirmed investment in Paisley town centre venues and outdoor spaces aimed at driving new footfall, preserving our architectural legacy and creating a cultural destination that will benefit the local economy.

“There will also be major investment in Renfrewshire over the next decade through the Glasgow City Region City Deal, with major infrastructure projects designed to unlock economic potential, improve connectivity and create jobs.”

Whilst it is easy to look at levels of investment or how many thousands or millions of pounds are going where, there has been a more intangible benefit for the town. National recognition has been a happy by-product of the bid, one which will help Paisley’s tourist trade.

“The town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 changed the town for the better and the momentum it generated will continue.

“It raised Paisley’s profile to new levels – reaching millions of people on a global scale – and increased awareness of its unique offer.

“It also transformed a reputation and brought a renewed sense of self-confidence back to residents which had previously been lost.”

After the year-long festivities south of the border have finished and long after the memories of defeat have disappeared from the town square, Paisley will have walked far down the road of revival. That will be the true legacy left from the 2021 bid.

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About Iain Galbraith

Iain is a Clyde Outside contributor with a specific focus on city culture. He can usually be found three rums deep, “working” at one of the many bars in Glasgow

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