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Community Trust backs 2021 bid & unveils plans for £40m Cinema & Theatre

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The Paisley Community Trust has thrown its weight behind the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 – while announcing details of plans to create a £40m cinema and performing arts theatre venue in the heart of the town.

The ambitious plans outline potential for a 500+ seat main theatre, 5 cinema screens, café bar, restaurant, educational hub and a cultural creative industry space – all connected by a state-of-the-art digital broadband connection.

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The Trust was formed in 2014 as the first community led Trust following the publishing of the Heritage Strategy for Paisley by Renfrewshire Council. The Heritage Strategy report outlined several key areas for the regeneration strategy of the town including the 2021 City of Culture Bid, the provision of a 300+ seat Theatre and a strong focus on community led initiatives. Over the past year, the Trust has engaged with key organisations in the town including Renfrewshire Council, West College Scotland, PACE Theatre Group, University of West of Scotland, as well as a number of local businesses and other community groups.

In July 2015 and supported with a £40,000 grant from Renfrewshire Council, The Paisley Community Trust engaged in a full Feasibility Study with Edinburgh and London based BOP Consulting. The Feasibility study was to address the overall need and demand for a Cinema / Theatre in the town, potential suitable locations, financial costs & requirements and fundraising options.

The report concluded overwhelmingly that there was a strong audience demand in the town and surrounding areas as well requirement from Educational partners. More than half of those surveyed expressed a demand for live music, theatre, comedy and blockbuster movies. In addition dance, arthouse film and live broadcasts featured strongly.

It is estimated the cost of the new venue will be around £40 million which will be funded from a mixture of private, public and lottery funding sources. It is hoped the venue will be open by 2021.

Gary Kerr, Chairman of the Trust stated “We are delighted to support the towns bid for the UK City of Culture 2021. The town has a proud and rich history in cinema and a highly regarded performing arts scene, home of course to the UK’s largest Youth Theatre Group PACE and the recently opened Rock and Pop School of Scotland.

“At the conclusion of our feasibility research, we are all confident in the demand and convinced on the transformational impact our new venue will have on the town.

“This is a community led initiative and we urge all Paisley residents to support us.”

David Wallace, Director of PACE agrees “Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021 could be transformational for our town both in terms of regeneration and in its cultural offer.

“Currently Paisley and Renfrewshire has a thriving and vibrant cultural scene which will now be able to build capacity, develop and produce new, exciting and innovative artistic projects both locally and in partnership with national and international cultural partners.

“A new multi purpose Arts venue in the town centre will be at the heart of this cultural transformation and PACE, one of the many cultural organisations in Paisley, is fully behind both this proposal and that of the bid for UK City of Culture status for our magnificent town.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 has had some phenomenal support from throughout the community since it was publicly launched the other week.

“We’ve always said the bid will only succeed if the local community comes forward and takes ownership of it – which is why we are delighted the Paisley Community Trust have been doing exactly that.

“We expect the bid will bring about an explosion in cultural activity around the town and this proposed venue could help capture much of that, while also being a valuable educational facility.

“The initial feasibility work showed there is a demand for it – we will continue to work with the Trust as they develop their plans further in the months ahead.”

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron added: “It’s great to be able to work with a local organisation so determined to realise their vision for a new arts and cultural venue in Paisley.

“They are showing the imagination and drive that I know to be such a strong characteristic of our town and which will come across in spades in our bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”