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£111k boost for local groups as part of Paisley 2021 bid

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Groups connected to Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 are in line to share a six-figure boost from a fund designed to boost the area’s creative scene.

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Councillors will this week be asked to approve a £111,299 spend from Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, to allow 12 different cultural and charity groups to run a variety of arts-related projects.

The CHE Fund was set up to help unlock Renfrewshire’s creative potential in the run-up to and during the Paisley 2021 bid.

This will be the third round of funding since the CHE Fund was set up – and saw 44 applications and a total ask of more than £700,000 for the judges to sift through.

The 12 projects recommended for approval include:
– £25,000 to Reaching Older Adults in Renfrewshire (ROAR) to use virtual reality and other digital technology to help older people have new cultural experiences;
– £15,000 for the Paisley First Business Improvement District to fund a project to produce six murals in partnership with local artists and community groups;
– £14,364 to the Historical Adventures group to help bring Renfrewshire’s deaf community together and involve them in arts projects.

Other shortlisted projects include an international tango festival for Paisley, a bi-annual poetry journal, a series of plays on the history of Renfrewshire, and money to help set up a local Scottish-Polish club.

A number of additional projects have been shortlisted but judges did not have all the information they needed to make a final decision on them – so councilors are being asked to give officers the power to approve up to another £45,000 of grants before the board meets again.

Members of the council’s leadership board will be asked to approve that request, as well as approve the other grant awards, when they meet on Wednesday 15 February.

The council set aside £500,000 for the CHE Fund back in 2015, and should the latest 12 applications be approved, £345,401 will have been spent to date.

That would also mean 46 projects will have been supported from a total of 152 applications – and a total funding ask of almost £2m.

Projects funded to date include teenage Kilbarchan animator Morgan Spence’s incredible Paisley 2021 Lego movie, released earlier month and now been seen by millions of people around the world.

Renfrewshire Council Leader and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 will bring massive economic and social benefits to the whole area.

“But if it is to succeed we need to show a thriving local creative scene and a proven ability to stage cultural projects.

“The CHE Fund is key to that – we know there is a huge depth of creativity and talent here in Renfrewshire and the fund is intended to help people show that off.

“The response from the public has been phenomenal and the level of ask has far outstripped the funding available.

“That has given the judges a tough task, as they have had to pick between a really high quality of application in each of the three rounds to date.

“We are pleased the latest shortlist includes a range of projects to help some of the less-heard voices locally – such as older adults, the deaf community and women who have experienced mental health difficulties.

“One of the key aims of Paisley’s bid is to harness the power of culture to make people’s lives better and this latest round of funding will help do that.”

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is due to be lodged in April, with organisers at the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport to announce the shortlist over the summer.