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Celebrate Paisley’s buildings by contributing to the town’s Story Map

Photography fans are being encouraged to share their favourite snaps of Paisley’s unique architecture for a Story Map that tells the story of the town through its rich built heritage.

The Story Map will capture a visual record of historic properties within Paisley Town Centre Conservation Area. Pupils and community groups are being asked to share their photos, memories and comments on buildings in the town they either have links with or simply admire and have a chance to have them added to the Story Map. The map will also share knowledge about local heritage.

The Story Map will go on to be used as a public online resource where people can view and continue to contribute to the story capturing the town’s built environment as time goes on.

Local primary school pupils and community groups will attend the Story Map launch on Friday 16 March in the UWS atrium, and bring along a digital copy of their image and a comment to accompany it in order to contribute to the map.

The event will also launch a new photography competition which will first be trialled with the groups who attend on the day.

Two winners will be announced (under 16 year-olds and over 16 year-olds) at the event and the winning photographs will be printed on banners displayed around Paisley Town Centre promoting the TH.CARS2 project. Following the event the competition will then be opened up to the general public to enter. All details about the competition can be found on the TH.CARS2 website.

Renfrewshire Council Leader, Cllr Iain Nicolson, said: “Paisley is home to some beautiful buildings and boasts the second highest concentration of listed buildings in Scotland and it’s great to celebrate this.

“People living in and around Paisley are uniquely able to see our most iconic buildings in a new way as well as highlight some of our hidden gems. By contributing to the Story Map people can share their own stories of why these stunning buildings matter to the town.”

This forms a key part of the Paisley Townscape Heritage and Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme 2 (TH.CARS2) which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Council and will deliver grant opportunities to property owners in a defined area of the town centre for high quality building repairs and shopfront improvements.

To find out more about the TH.CARS2 project please visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/THCars2 or to find out more about the Story Map please visit:www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/THcars2StoryMap.

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Sports and leisure centres re-open on Saturday

ALL sports and leisure facilities run by Renfrewshire Leisure will re-open tomorrow. (Saturday, March 3)
The facilities, which had been closed because of the recent severe weather, includes sports centres, swimming pools, libraries, Paisley Museum, Paisley Arts Centre, community centres and town halls.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Thankfully, it appears we have seen the worst of the extreme weather and we are now able to re-open our facilities.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience while we made adjustments to our services during this exceptional bad weather.

“But I would urge people to please continue to take care when travelling over the next few days.
”Customers can keep up to date on their fitness classes and other events by logging on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com or by calling the sports and leisure facilities on 0300 300 0250 and all cultural venues on 0300 300 1210.

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Plans to build on Paisley 2021 legacy to go before councillors

Plans to use the momentum of Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid to help drive a long-term cultural, social and economic transformation of the area are to go before councillors next week.

Renfrewshire Council and its partners have been planning how the town’s bid journey will continue, by building on the positive platform the bid created, and the widespread community support that drove Paisley’s campaign.

Paisley was the only Scottish place and first-ever town to make the shortlist for the prestigious competition, run by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Feedback from DCMS says Paisley was viewed as ‘a very strong contender’ and the decision to shortlist the bid was ‘an easy one’, while praising the town’s passion and commitment to using culture to tackle social problems, and describing the Paisley bid’s community engagement as ‘exemplary’.

The Paisley 2021 Partnership Board – set up to oversee the bid and bringing together business, cultural, educational, community, health and political representatives – has already confirmed it will continue and will deliver and drive a legacy plan, with some partners intending to maintain their original financial pledges.

That detailed legacy plan will be finalised by the Partnership Board in March – but a report outlining the key points of the local authority’s contribution towards the plan is now going before the council’s Leadership Board

It will continue the ambition to achieve the bid’s original long-term aims to significantly grow Paisley’s creative economy, transform its reputation, see the town recognised for its cultural excellence, lift communities out of poverty, and turn Paisley town centre into a vibrant destination.

And the council will continue to lead on delivering the following:

– the planned £100m-plus investment in venues and infrastructure, including the project under way to turn Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor destination, major internal revamps to transform Paisley Town Hall and Arts Centre, upgrading the sporting facilities at St James Playing Fields and creating new space for outdoor events and festivals, a new library on the High Street, and improvements to the town centre streetscape and road system;

– a new Paisley destination brand and website will also be unveiled in the next few weeks to build on the national and international profile created by the bid and promote the area as an attractive place to visit, live and invest;

– an enhanced cultural events and festivals programme over the next four years to deliver the best of what was planned for 2021, attract visitors to Paisley, and strengthen the local cultural sector;

Plans will also be developed to grow the area’s creative economy through a new apprenticeship programme, support for creative businesses and a new volunteer strategy.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We must do everything to build on the impact of bidding for UK City of Culture and the momentum it created.

“The campaign took the town’s profile to new levels – with hundreds of millions of people around the world getting the chance to see or hear something positive about Paisley – transformed our reputation, raised awareness of our unique story, and brought self-confidence back to the town.

“It also generated a town-wide discussion about Paisley’s future – with more than 36,000 people engaging with the bid by the time the final submission was made, and new partnerships and relationships developed locally and nationally which will continue to work in Paisley’s interest.

“And it also firmly established the idea that Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage assets can be used to transform its future – and not just in an economic sense, but also through social impact, by harnessing the power of culture to boost health and well-being, and help people out of poverty.

“We may not have won the title – but the important point is we are still going to deliver our vision and many of the aspirations that informed our bid.

“The report going to the leadership board offers an initial outline of those next steps, and as chair of the Paisley Partnership Board I look forward to revealing the detailed action plan with our partners.

“With major investment in our cultural venues, a new destination brand and website set to launch, an enhanced events and festivals programme in the years ahead, and new funding to support local artists and help the local cultural sector grow, there is lots ahead to be excited by.”

The council’s leadership board will meet on Wednesday 21 February.

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Visible Fictions performance for Paisley Arts Centre’s 30th anniversary

In celebration of Paisley Arts Centre turning 30, Visible Fictions return to their Paisley roots to present a new site-specific piece at Paisley Central Library.  

Visible Fictions have been producing award winning creative experiences for young people since 1991 and it all started in Paisley Arts Centre where Visible Fictions had their first home. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, touring the world and redefining what theatre is and where it can happen.

This November Visible Fictions are very excited to present a new experience in Paisley Central Library.  The Hidden is a dramatic, participatory event involving a series of complex clues, codes and puzzles designed to take the audience on a journey of discovery.  

Someone has gone missing but have they left messages behind?  Hidden in books, written on index cards, scribbled on the back of an old photograph; there is a mystery waiting to be solved.  

Played out in Paisley Central Library, your task is to piece the story together using all the clues you can find, but should you share your theory or keep it to yourself?

Work as a team to rewrite the history books, just be careful which path you chose to go down . . .  

The Hidden is a dramatic, interactive experience for small groups of adults and teenagers.  The participants will work as a team to make sense of clues and come up with their own theory to solve the mystery.  

Douglas Irvine, Artistic Director comments “Creating this dramatic experience has been both thrilling and challenging, there are many complexities, twists and turns and we can’t wait to see the decisions our audiences take.  Presenting this new piece in Paisley means a lot to our company and we are thrilled to be premiering this unusual performance in the town. “   

View the trailer here – https://vimeo.com/231564915

To book tickets  – www.renfrewshireleisure.com/arts or call 0300 300 1210

For further information please contact Sophie Ochojna, Marketing and Development Manager, Visible Fictions sophie@visiblefictions.co.uk or call 0141 221 8727.

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Our spectacular Halloween Parade is always a festival highlight!
With a Fire Monster on a Paisley Chariot, the Spark! Drummers, LED lanterns, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners Band and lots more colourful participants, this is one not to be missed.

Parade route: New Street – Causeyside Street – St Mirren Brae – Gauze Street- Cotton Street

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Paisley statues yarn bombed

She was infamous for not being amused but even Queen Victoria would have raised a smile as her statue was one of a string across Paisley to be yarn bombed.

Passers-by stopped in their tracks when they saw the legendary monarch, who stands in Dunn Square, sporting a specially created tartan crinoline skirt and traffic cone crown.

The William Dunn memorial was also dressed and given silver knitted cups to mark the fact it used to be a water fountain.

Robert Tannahill’s statue in Abbey Close also enjoyed a makeover with the town’s famous weaver poet dressed in a knitted scarf with musical notes, waistcoat and gaiters.

A knitted lawn with flowers completed the yarn bombing to mark his catalogue of songs and poems celebrating nature.

The installations are part of the Winter Coats yarn bombing project, where a series of local groups worked with textile artists Ashley Holdsworth and Bex Smith to research historical figures and then create a garment for them.

With the support of the NHS’s Network Services, Capability Scotland, the Phoenix Activity Group, Craft to Recover, Laugh n Craft, the Disability Resource Centre and patients from wards at Dykebar and Leverndale all took part.

Their colourful creations were installed to coincide with the start of Renfrewshire’s contribution to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

The display of street art also saw statues of Sir Peter and Thomas Coats beside Dunn Square dressed in a Paisley pattern kilt and a waistcoat decorated with thread and ribbon to represent the family’s textiles empire and history.

At the town’s Russell Institute, where local children used to receive their inoculations, some of the infant statues were draped with sock teddy bunting. The cuddly toys were crafted to come with miniature slings and walking sticks in recognition of the institute’s child welfare clinic roots.

The town’s other illustrious textile family weren’t forgotten, with George Clark’s statue given a mortar board in honour of his family’s passion for education.

Renowned ornithologist and poet Alexander Wilson’s statue at Abbey Close was yarn bombed with a bird cage and birds.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The project is a fitting contribution to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and shows how the different groups all researched and understood the history of the statues and who they commemorate.

“It’s a great way of shining a light on our unique cultural heritage as we bid to be UK City of Culture for 2021. “

The Winter Coats initiative is part of a wider five year project, Renfrewshire Council’s Paisley Townscape Heritage Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme 2.

It has also received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland and has a total budget of £4.5m.

Ten per cent of the funding is allocated to a Cultural and Heritage programme which aims to engage the community in the architectural and textiles heritage of Paisley.

Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland said: “Thanks to funds raised through the National Lottery, a new sense of belief and pride in Paisley’s past is growing. Fun projects like this, rooted in the town’s historic past clearly demonstrate the creative spirit alive today.

“We have invested in many projects across the town which have seen historic buildings restored, communities exploring their heritage and also confirmed our latest commitment with initial support for the transformational plans for Paisley’s museum.”

Michael Easson from Historic Environment Scotland, which partly funded the project, said: “It’s exciting to see an innovative and fun new initiative to engage people across myriad backgrounds with their local built environment.

“I hope this brings a wider awareness to the Renfrewshire Mental Health Arts Festival as well as the Historic Environment Scotland supported Paisley TH.CARS2 scheme.”

The practice of yarn bombing is thought to have started in the US by Texas knitters who wanted to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects. It’s since been adopted across the globe.

A wider network of groups have also been making scarves to tie onto railings which will be donated to the homeless service in Paisley’s Abercorn Street.

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£45.7m Paisley UK City of Culture 2021 venue investment confirmed

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been boosted by a massive £45.7m town centre investment package to help the town host the title, given the green light today by councillors.

A meeting of Renfrewshire Council agreed to set aside funds for major infrastructure projects which support the wider push to transform Paisley’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Paisley Town Hall lit up in support of the bid

The news comes as the town – the only Scottish place to make the final UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist – prepares to submit its bid to the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tomorrow.

Today’s investment will support the long-term future of some of the town’s historic venues and the wider regeneration of Paisley – while also ensuring the town is ready to host the 2021 title should it be announced as the winner. It includes:

– £22m for a major modernisation of Paisley Town Hall. The 135-year-old venue will get a replacement electrical system as well as an extensive programme of improvements covering an improved main hall, stage and lighting, plus a new function suite, kitchen and bar;

– £10m set aside for town centre transport and public realm improvements to support both the 2021 bid and the long-term regeneration of the town centre. That will include investment to road, public transport and pedestrian access, and improvements to buildings and lighting;

– a £7.7million redevelopment at St James playing field including an area for large outdoor events, upgraded grass pitches, new pavilion and café; and an upgrade to Ferguslie Park Sports Centre;

– £3.5m set aside to turn the disused Galbraiths warehouse in Back Sneddon Street into a venue capable of hosting large-scale art exhibitions such as the Turner Prize, which typically goes to the UK City of Culture host. This money will only be spent should Paisley win the 2021 title;

– £2.5m for a wide-ranging revamp of Paisley Arts Centre including improved a replacement electrical system and toilets, dressing rooms, seats and staging, as well as access improvements.

The money committed today is over and above funding previously set aside for three projects already under way – the new museum store set to open in a basement of a high street unit later this year, the new Paisley library to be built further up the same street, and a £42m revamp of Paisley Museum, for which it was announced yesterday £4.9m of National Lottery money has been earmarked.

Paisley is joined on the final UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist by Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland, and Swansea, with a decision due in December. There has never been a Scottish winner. The bid is due to be sent off tomorrow with a mass public show of support at Paisley Cross from 10.30am.

Today’s investment comes as a local group – the Paisley Community Trust – prepare to unveil their own plans for a cinema and theatre complex in the town centre.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The package of measures unveiled today shows the scale of our ambition for Paisley and Renfrewshire over the next decade.

“We are making sure Paisley is equipped to host the UK City of Culture title while also supporting the wider vision to use our unique and internationally-significant heritage and cultural story to transform the area’s future.

“Paisley town centre needs a boost – and the way we can deliver that is by using what sets us apart to bring people back into the town.

“Paisley has massive potential as a visitor destination and is already making a name for itself as an event venue. Improving the physical and travel infrastructure of the town centre makes it easier for people to get here, and a more attractive place to spend time.

“The work already under way on the new museum store and library – with plans to transform the museum also in the pipeline – are the first steps towards turning our high street into a culture street, bringing new life and footfall which will allow traders to thrive.

“At the same time, the scale of the investment in the town hall and arts centre will make these two outstanding listed buildings fit for the 21st century as venues capable of hosting the type of international-class programming which the UK City of Culture year will bring.

“And to have a local group preparing to unveil their own set of plans for an arts venue in the town centre just shows the extent to which the wider community and private sector see the potential of what culture can do for Paisley.

“There is nothing which could transform Paisley more than winning the UK City of Culture 2021 title – the journey we want to go on will move to a totally different level, with a year of major events and world-class programming which everybody will be invited to enjoy and benefit from.

“We need this title and Paisley Buddies have shown they want it to happen – this investment will mean we will be ready and able to host it, and I commend councillors for the long-term vision they have shown today.”

It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £175m economic boost and create and sustain more than 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period, while attracting more than 800,000 visitors in 2021.

Current UK City of Culture hosts Hull have seen £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013, with the city attracting 1.4m visitors in just the first three months of its year in the spotlight.

For more information on Paisley’s bid, see www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Spectacular programme revealed for Paisley’s winter events season

The spectacular programme has been revealed for this year’s winter events season in Paisley – with Northern Irish rockers Ash set to headline the town’s annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

Paisley’s winter events programme will begin with the two-day Halloween Festival on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October. The special 80’s themed Paisley Fireworks Spectacular will take place on the Saturday 4 November with the ever-popular Christmas Lights Switch On taking place two weeks later on Saturday 18 November.

Paisley Winter Events package.
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Winter events excitement will extend across Renfrewshire with live music and free family entertainment taking place at Christmas Lights Switch Ons in Renfrew on Saturday 25 November and Johnstone on Saturday 2 December. The annual MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards comes to Paisley for the first time ever and will be held at Paisley Town Hall on Saturday 2 December.

Programme highlights include:

  • the spooktacular Halloween Parade through Paisley town centre with a stunning fire monster on a Paisley Chariot, New Orleans style street band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners Band, the Spark! Drummers and much more.


  • a spectacular Fire Garden and Fire Stage at Bridge Street with soundscapes, projections and illuminations to make for a real extravaganza of sight and sound in Abbey Close.


  • a night of music, haunted performers and spooky goings-on with a Halloween Ball at Paisley Town Hall and Friday Fright Night at Paisley Museum, organised by Renfrewshire Leisure.


  • an 80s themed Silent Disco in Paisley Town Hall during the afternoon and broadcast from Clyde One DJs in the evening ahead of the Paisley Fireworks Spectacular at Abbey Close.


  • The famous Reindeer Parade starting and finishing on Paisley High Street before Santa opens his grotto outside the Paisley Centre.


  • a Live Stage with performance by music headliners Ash before Paisley’s festive season is officially marked with the annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

The winter season is part of a wider programme of events in Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish location on the shortlist for the title, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique heritage and cultural story to transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area, with the final bid document due to be submitted to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the end of the month.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “The Halloween Festival, Fireworks Spectacular and Christmas Lights Switch On are established favourites in the town’s events calendar – and this year Paisley’s winter events programme is even bigger and better than ever.

“One of the key aims of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is to showcase the town’s proven track record in hosting a diverse range of major cultural activities and the winter events programme highlights just that.”

Tim Wheeler, frontman of Ash, said: “We’re really looking forward to playing Paisley for the switching on of the Christmas lights this year. Hopefully our tunes will get the elves dancing and the Christmas spirit flowing.”

Santa Claus, who visited the town for the launch of Paisley’s winter events programme, is looking forward to the Christmas Lights Switch On and said: “It will be a happy, wonderful occasion. Paisley’s real strength is its great people and I know they’ll turn out to see me and enjoy the night.”

Gerry Lyons, DJ for the 80s themed Silent Disco and family fun at the Fireworks Spectacular, said: “The eighties was a great decade for music and I’ll be playing everything from classic pop like Wham through to power ballads and iconic tunes like Michael Jackson’s thriller. The silent disco will see people in the room listen to different music through head phones, so they’re dancing to different tunes and it’s great fun.”

Find out more information at www.paisley2021.co.uk.

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Major town centre investment to be considered by councillors

town hall spring

A major package of capital investment in Paisley town centre is set to be considered by Renfrewshire councillors when they meet next week.

Plans being put forward propose a package of investment totalling £45.7million in refurbishment and upgrades to Paisley Town Hall, Paisley Arts Centre, a new venue at the former Galbraith’s site on Back Sneddon Street in the town; improvements to Paisley town centre as well as an upgrade to St James Playing field.

town hall spring

Paisley Town Hall

The plans are part of the town’s final bid for the UK City of Culture 2021 competition, which is also being considered by councillors next week, with a decision on the winner expected by the end of the year.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the 2021 competition, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage offer to make it a key visitor destination within Scotland, and transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area.

Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The whole of Renfrewshire has such a rich heritage and world class local talent and this investment will bring significant benefit to communities right across the region.

“Culture and heritage can play such a transformational role in supporting our local economy and improving the opportunities and wellbeing for our communities, investing in improvements to our existing venues and our town centre environment, we can make a real change in the fortunes of the area.

“Winning the title will boost the local economy by £175million, create more than 4,700 local jobs in the area, boost our tourism industry and improve the profile of the area, showing investors how much Renfrewshire has to offer.”

The plans include:

£22million for Paisley Town Hall – to increase performance attendances and attract high quality events to improve the visitor experience and improve the physical infrastructure of the building to secure its long term future

£2.5 million for Paisley Arts Centre – to upgrade electrical works, improve toilet provision, provide changing accommodation for performers, new seating, improved staging, redecoration and improved access arrangements

£10million improvements to Paisley town centre – include improved access into the town centre, pedestrian and cycling routes, public transport, local traffic improvements and investment in the physical appearance of the town centre

£3.5million to transform the former Galbraith’s building on Back Sneddon Street to provide a venue for performance and visual art events.

£7.7million redevelopment of facilities at St James playing field including an upgrade to grass pitches, a new pavilion and café, and an area to accommodate large scale events; and an upgrade to the existing Ferguslie Park Sports Centre.

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From New York to New Street for PACE panto star

ACTOR Chris Alexander is swapping New York for New Street, in Paisley to take the role of the Dame in this year’s PACE panto, Snowhite.

Scots-born Chris performed in New York as part of Ramesh Meyyappan’s production of Butterfly, which was part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival, at the 59E59 Theatre, in Manhattan, last year.

And earlier this year, Chris was back in the USA with the same production – an adaptation of Madame Butterfly – staged in Millersville, Pennsylvania.

But the Paisley Arts Centre, in New Street will be Chris’s stage from November 25 until December 30 when he stars in the Snowhite panto.

Also appearing in the panto, written and directed by Ross Stenhouse are professional actors Chloe Lupton, as Snowhite; Dani Heron, as the Evil Queen; Danny Holmes, as The Prince and Nathan Byrne, taking the comic lead.

And of course, there will also be 100 local youngsters who are members of PACE, taking part in the hilarious adaptation of the traditional panto.

Tickets only recently went on sale and already more than half the seats have been snapped up.
The show is produced by PACE panto stalwart, Alan Orr who also takes on the role of musical director.
Alan said: “Everyone at PACE is working their socks off to make this the biggest and best panto we’ve ever done.

“We’ll be performing a magical, fun-filled family show with laughter every step of the way and loads of audience participation.

“Our Dame, Chris Alexander is a very experienced actor and is a really funny guy. He’s got natural comic timing and has experience performing in panto many times before.”

Tickets, priced from £9.50p are available from the Arts Centre Box Office, by logging on towww.boxoffice.renfrewshire.gov.uk or by calling 0300 300 1210.