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University PhD researcher aims to put Paisley on the cultural map

Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 aims to put the area on the map – and that’s exactly what one University of West of Scotland (UWS) student intends to do.

Alison McAndlish, University of West of Scotland PhD Researcher

Alison McCandlish, 38, who is a PhD student in Cultural Heritage at UWS, is developing a cultural map of Renfrewshire which forms part of the bid campaign.

And she hopes to use the map to showcase the wide range of cultural assets and ‘what is happening where’ across Paisley and Renfrewshire as a whole.

Alison working on the Renfrewshire Cultural Map

Alison said: “The reason behind the map is to show the diversity of things that are happening in Renfrewshire because there are huge amounts of music activity, arts activity, theatre and broadcast activities but they’re not mapped at the moment.

“The idea is to get people involved in inputting information as well so that it is a community-based map, showing what they do.

“What we want to do is get as many things as possible on the map, such as the cultural heritage activities that are going on around Renfrewshire. That includes things such as pubs, sports and leisure activities, people with exhibitions and cafes that have got events on.

“It’s not just about official tourist attractions or organised venues, but places that wouldn’t be that obvious without further research. It’s a place for people to showcase their activity.”

A building, venue or even an organisation which does cultural things is considered a ‘cultural asset’ and can be plotted on Alison’s interactive map.

The locations are represented visually by coloured dots and can fall into nine categories of cultural activity. These are:

  • Community
  • History, heritage and architecture
  • Sports, leisure and open spaces
  • Film, broadcast and digital activities
  • Music
  • Literature and spoken word
  • Visual arts
  • Theatre and dance
  • Fashion, design and applied arts

Alison said: “Before I created the map, there wasn’t a visual way of seeing what’s happening across Renfrewshire. There’s a lot of information but it’s all in different places so the idea is that the map shows up the concentration of things that are happening across activities.”

Professor Gayle McPherson of the University’s School of Media, Culture and Society, who is Alison’s PhD supervisor, said: “This cultural map of Renfrewshire, which Alison has created as part of her PhD, helps showcase the wide range of cultural activities happening across Renfrewshire.

“This map highlights the cultural vibrancy of the area and it is great that it will form part of the Paisley 2021 bid.”

Alison is encouraging other cultural assets and members of the public to add information to the Renfrewshire Cultural Map to increase awareness on their projects and activity.

She said: “There is a lot of information online, but this is one way to get all of it in one place and there are lots of different categories and activities. For example, if someone wants to see what visual arts things are on, then it’s there on the map.  There’s also a section on sports and it’d be great to populate the section with all the local clubs with what’s happening around the area.”

You can see the Renfrewshire Cultural Map and find out how you can add your location to it at http://www.paisley2021.co.uk/news/welcome-to-the-renfrewshire-cultural-map/