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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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Influential women of Paisley to be celebrated as part of exhibition in twin town of Furth

Influential women from across Paisley and Renfrewshire have gathered to celebrate their heritage with a special visitor from Paisley’s sister town of Fürth.

Michaela Schneider, who is a member of the Women’s Museum in the German city, visited the town last week to find out more about the history of powerful women from Paisley.

The museum plans to include information on Paisley’s broad cultural diversity and feminine history in its latest exhibition which focuses on Fürth and its twin locations in France, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia and Scotland.

The exhibition will look at the ‘feminine side’ of Fürth and its twin cities, and will bring to life the stories of strong women, past and present.

Paisley has been twinned with Fürth since 1969 and also has further twin town links with Gladsaxe in Denmark.

During her visit, Michaela attended a special dinner at Paisley Town Hall to meet influential figures in culture, art, music, sport, business and politics from across Renfrewshire.

Among those attending the dinner were former Provost of Renfrewshire Anne Hall, director of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 Jean Cameron, president of the Old Paisley Society Cath Mitchell, InCube Renfrewshire designer Dominika Zurawska, artist Caroline Gormley, Diane Mitchell of the Diane Mitchell Music School and local musicians Carol Laula, Linzi Clark and Lisa Kowalski.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, who welcomed Michaela Schneider and guests at the event, said: “I was delighted to welcome Michaela to Paisley and celebrate the efforts of outstanding women in the Renfrewshire area.

“The exhibition in Fürth will go a long way to highlight the important work of women throughout Paisley’s history and their influence on society today.

“This event was a fantastic way to showcase the inspirational work and activity being carried out by women right here in Renfrewshire, whilst also building upon the strong relationship we have developed with Fürth.”

Michaela Schneider said: “The purpose of my visit was to get to know Paisley, introduce the Women’s Museum and to make connections for future collaborations between our museum and the town.

“Learning about Jane Arthur, the Mill Girls and Agnus Russell, to name just a few, and the businesswomen, politicians and creative minds I have met during my visit, I have found a town with an impressive spirit which has been inspired by these women.

“I have been moved by the unbelievable support and warm-hearted welcome, which was apparent even before I came over from Germany.”

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “Celebrating our international links is a key part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and it was fantastic to have Michaela visit from our twin town of Fürth.

“Paisley’s bid is also about highlighting the area’s cultural and historical figures – and the town’s rich history of strong women in the mills showcases just that.

“The town has raised women who have gone on to change the world and it is great that we will be able to mark this with our friends in Fürth.”

You can visit the International Women’s Museum website at www.frauenindereinenwelt.de

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Kids programme unveiled for The Spree festival


Paisley’s annual The Spree festival has unveiled its family programme offering a range of performances and activities to help keep the kids entertained this October break.

The bumper music, comedy and arts festival, which is now in its sixth year and taking place as part of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, will take place from Friday 13 to Tuesday 24 October with a jam packed programme of activities for the family.


The majority of the shows under the family programme are free to attend and will offer a range of experiences for kids.

The National Theatre of Scotland will perform their fantastically fun new show Rocket Post which has a great mix of songs and storytelling and is full of humour, heart and hope for the future. The show is based on a true story set in the Western Isles in 1934. It’s a tale of miscommunication, vaulting ambition and the joyous discoveries that happen when everything goes wrong.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “I am thrilled that the National Theatre of Scotland is able to take part in the fabulous festival that is  The Spree, this year, and  share our delightful new family show Rocket Post and accompanying workshop with Paisley audiences.”

Those looking for an exciting challenge can take part in Big Telly Company’s Operation Paisley: Alien Pursuit, a game for families where they are challenged with deciphering a number of clues as a team.

Little ones will be kept entertained with a range of activities from interactive Bookbug sessions and opportunities to meet Badger the Mystical Mutt, star of a series of chart-topping illustrated children’s books. There will also be old favourites like the Punch & Judy puppet show in the town.

Also taking place over the festival is a comedy show written and performed by kids who have participated in workshops where they will learn how to write and deliver sketches based on their own funny experiences. Meanwhile music fans can learn more about Gaelic singing and drumming at Fèis Phàislig Workshops or find their groove with the award-winning Buddy Beat group.

For older kids interested in digital art they will have the opportunity to participate in a digital graffiti board session where they can also learn about coding with Computer Xplorers. Craft enthusiasts can unleash their creative flair at jewellery workshops while budding artists and writers can join AS Creatives for a range of activity workshops covering everything from art to creative writing and poetry.

Paisley 2021 bid director, Jean Cameron, said: “The Spree programme this year offers so many opportunities for kids of all ages to get involved and explore their talents by sampling a diverse range of creative activities.

“The scale and range of acts and activities taking place as part of The Spree has continued to grow in recent years and is now firmly established as a key date in Scotland’s festival calendar. This year is shaping up to be the best yet, with a number of unique performances in support of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. It really will offer something for everyone.”

The Spree will also feature acts such as Paolo Nutini and Frightened Rabbit alongside the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, who will be performing at Paisley’s iconic 12th century Abbey during the festival. Much of the action will take place in a specially-erected Spiegeltent in the town centre, which will host trad acts such as Dougie MacLean and Canada’s De Temps Antan. While the Paisley Arts Centre will welcome Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert among a host of other acts.

This year’s festival is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

Places for many of the family activities and performances can be booked online at www.thespree.co.uk

Tickets can be bought online at www.thespree.co.uk and from Renfrewshire Leisure on 0300 300 1210. Tickets are also on sale in InCube Shop, 9b Gilmour Street; PaisleyArts Centre, New Street; and Feel the Groove, Causeyside Street.

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First ever Weave Festival Video

Thousands of people descended on Paisley town centre on Friday 30 June – Sunday 2 July for the first-ever Weave festival, celebrating the town’s radical history and heritage.

The bumper weekend was taking place alongside the annual Sma’ Shot celebrations – one of the world’s oldest workers festivals.

Video Courtesy of Paisley 2021 For City of Culture.

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West College Scotland students share their passion for traditional construction works

Construction students from West College Scotland’s Paisley Campus took part in an event to promote traditional construction at the Paisley Abbey this Monday and Tuesday.

During the event, the students demonstrated traditional construction skills to an attendance of Renfrewshire school pupils and the local community. Kids were able to have a try during hands-on taster sessions.

Tommy Campbell, Head of Sector – Construction at West College Scotland, said: “Traditional construction skills are crucial to maintain our architectural heritage and I am thrilled that our staff and students are taking an active part in this. This event is a fantastic opportunity for our students to showcase their skills and for school pupils to get inspired by construction trades – a great career path!”

West College Scotland Students were delighted to have the opportunity to share their passion for traditional construction works.

Alistair Wood, 22 from Glasgow, Roofing Apprentice with Archibald McCorquodale & Son Ltd, said: “It’s great to be able to demonstrate our skills, it helps us build our confidence level. I really enjoyed showing the kids how you can work slate and get a nice finish. That’s why I love my trade: it gives you a sense of accomplishment”.

Nicola Martin, 29 from Greenock, Painting & Decorating Apprentice with Kevin Houston Painter & Decorator in Johnstone, said: “The school pupils got really interested when we started the demonstration. It’s great to see girls and boys enthused about our trade. I was thrilled to show them what we can do in painting and decorating.”

West College Scotland and partner organisations were also very pleased to welcome Maurice Golden MSP and Ken Macintosh MSP at the event. Both of them were excited to take part in the hands-on skills sessions as well. Ken Macintosh MSP said: “This was a terrific exhibition of traditional construction skills and I want to say a big thank you to all the instructors and apprentices for taking the time to share with us their expertise and experience. It was fascinating to see such craftsmanship first hand and even more revealing to see how much satisfaction and pride everyone took in their work. Speaking to both the old hands and the new recruits, it is clear that learning these traditional skills is a route to secure employment. Scotland is full of old and historic buildings, some on a grand scale some simply roofs over our head, but all of which need to be maintained. I think those of us fortunate enough to have visited this display, including the pupils from local schools who have yet to choose their own career or vocational path, will have been incredibly impressed by what we saw.”

Maurice Golden MSP (top) and Ken Macintosh MSP (bottom) took part in the hands-on traditional construction skills sessions under the supervision of West college Scotland students and staff

The school pupils also took part in a guided tour of the Paisley Abbey during which they learned about the architecture and history of Paisley’s notable buildings.

Raymond Kane, Development Officer – Skills for Learning, Life and Work at the Renfrewshire Council, coordinated the participation of schools in the event and was very pleased with the outcome. He said: “Secondary schools in the Paisley area were delighted to participate in the traditional construction skills event.  It was great to see so many male and female S2 pupils enjoying themselves and developing new skills.  Hopefully this event will help these young people to make informed subject/pathway choices at this important time in their lives.”

Planned and coordinated by West College Scotland and the Renfrewshire Council – Regeneration & Economic Development Service, the event involved different organisations, including the Scottish Traditional Buildings Forum, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Developing the Young Workforce – West Region (DYW West), the Heritage Lottery Fund, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and some local construction businesses.

All partner organisations were delighted to take part.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader, Cllr Jim Paterson, said: “It’s great to see so many of our young people learning about traditional building skills and having the opportunity to participate in some practical sessions through the Scottish Traditional Building Forum.

“The activity is part of our Townscape Heritage Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme 2 which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. The project celebrates the town’s unique heritage which is a key part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

Ian Hughes, CITB Partnerships Director in Scotland, said: “The Traditional Building Skills demonstration in Paisley is one of many similar events throughout the country that CITB is delighted to support through our Educational Engagement Commissioned Fund.


“It’s great to be able to work with partners such West College Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, who are passionate about, and dedicated to, teaching and preserving the crucial skills needed to help maintain Scotland’s many beautiful and unique traditional buildings. From intricate stonework detailing to lead roofing and tile cutting, an important part of our work is to ensure that we attract and keep talented people in the construction industry who in turn, can benefit from long and successful careers using these fantastic skills. We look forward to supporting many more events as they arrive in Perth and Stirling over the next couple of months.”

Bob Davidson, Programme Director at DYW West, said: “We were delighted to be involved in the event and to help the partner organisations engage with local secondary schools.  Although the weather tried its best to hamper proceedings, the College’s apprentices and school pupils (boys and girls) all did a great job – and got into the spirit of the many hands on activities on offer. This was an excellent example of all the education partners working together with industry to host an inspiring event for young people. We look forward to working further with all the partners involved.”


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Employability awards recognise outstanding talent

The 2017 Renfrewshire Employability Awards have celebrated the successes and people making a difference to local businesses.

Employees, entrepreneurs and interns were just some of the top talent recognised at the award ceremony on Wednesday (6 September 2017) hosted by television and radio presenter Bryan Burnett at Paisley Town Hall.

Renfrewshire businesses nominated local people who have been supported through the Employability in Renfrewshire Partnership programmes.

RDC Invest awards 6.9.17 Celebrating Success
Renfrewshire Employability Awards
Paisley Town Hall Top Intern Award Top Intern Award
Debbie Campbell

And after a nail-biting wait, nine winners were announced from the impressive list of finalists.

The award winners are:

  • Most Promising New Employee: Jamie Drysdale, Power 1 Electrical Contractors Ltd
  • Most Promising New Entrepreneur: Euan McIntosh, Starkstrom (Scotland) Ltd
  • Top Intern: Debbie Campbell, I Am Me Scotland
  • Best Trainee: Homam Sharif, Renfrewshire Council
  • CV Builder (Youth): Morgan Spence, Johnstone High School
  • CV Builder (Adult): Laura Connor, Engage Renfrewshire
  • Apprentice of the Year: Andrew McClorey, Renfrewshire Council
  • Progression in Work: Laura Currie, Consilium Contracting Ltd
  • Achiever of the Year: Barbara Brown

More than 1,000 local businesses have signed up to support the Invest in Renfrewshire programme which support 1400 people each year, providing direct access to vacancies, work experience, training, personal support and finance.

The programme is now based at the recently refurbished Russell Institute building on Causeyside Street, which is also home to Skills Development Scotland.

The night concluded with three Special Recognition awards for local businesses who have shown outstanding support over the last year, enthusiastically helping people prepare for work, enter work and progress in work.

These awards went to Papamacs Gourmet Kitchen in Johnstone; Gormac Coachworks in Renfrew and Carli’s Kindergarten in Erskine.

Councillor Jim Paterson, Depute Leader of Renfrewshire Council said: “Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone shortlisted for these awards which celebrate success and recognise the talent, enterprise and commitment of Renfrewshire’s people.

“The collective cooperation and commitment of our partners in the business community, education and employability sectors is key to our continued economic success.

“Together, we have taken Renfrewshire’s youth employment from 27th in Scotland to being fourth best. Our job totals are at pre-recession levels; regeneration is gathering pace; unemployment is falling; businesses are growing; and we are developing a reputation as a place of enterprise, creativity and drive.

“Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 is already changing how we are seen and how others see us. The Glasgow City Region City Deal’s £274m investment in Renfrewshire will put us right at the heart of a powerhouse regional economy. We will seize this momentum by continuing to support business growth and create jobs. We will work tirelessly to help people find work and succeed in a modern economy.”

Sandra Black, Renfrewshire Council Chief Executive said: “I too want to congratulate all our finalists and partners who have shown what is possible and inspire our continued success.

“These awards celebrate the enterprise, talent and commitment to excellence that characterise Renfrewshire’s businesses and their employees. From the winners and everyone shortlisted we can see that these qualities are having an immense and positive effect on our people and our future.

“Renfrewshire has always had a strong, creative, hardworking and entrepreneurial culture. We also have a strong sense of community and fairness. Through local partnership working, we have made great strides in developing our economy, tackling poverty, regenerating our towns and empowering our communities.”

Find out more about employability programmes in Renfrewshire at: www.investinrenfrewshire.com

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Don’t miss your chance to look inside Renfrewshire’s historic landmarks

The ‘Porridge Bowl’, unique gargoyles and the home of Robert Burns’ compatriot are just a few of the intriguing sights and locations visitors to Renfrewshire can experience next weekend.

Paisley Abbey

Part of a worldwide event with over 50 countries taking part, Renfrewshire Doors Open Days is a celebration of the fantastic architecture and significant history of the region.

On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September, everyone will have the opportunity to experience a weekend of exploration around Renfrewshire as many venues not normally accessible to the public open their doors for a look inside.

Alison Christie with children at the Sma’ Shot Cottages

On Saturday, the home of Robert Tannahill, the ‘Weaver Poet’ who formed a close relationship with Robert Burns, will be open for visitors to see the extraordinary collection of memorabilia on display at what is now the home to one of the oldest Burns Clubs in the world.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to look inside the John Neilson Institute which, due to its distinctive roof, is nicknamed the Porridge Bowl and has become a distinct feature of Paisley’s skyline.

Sunday will see the Renfrew Victory Baths welcome visitors in on a guided tour of the striking Edwardian swimming pool  which was awarded Grade ‘B’ listed status in 1971, while Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch will offer tours of the lookout tower giving visitors to take in the spectacular views of the loch and Garnock Valley.

After the news Paisley has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021, its High St location will open its doors on both days to give everyone a chance to find out more about what the bid means for the area, what it could do for you and what’s still to come in the next few months.

More than 50 buildings and locations will be open for the public across the weekend ensuring there is something to peak everyone’s interest.

Kids can collect their own Doors Open Days passport from participating buildings and Renfrewshire’s libraries which they can fill up over the weekend with stamps.

Collecting five stamps will see them rewarded with a certificate and a gift in yet another reason to get involved.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will be joining members of the public in exploring the area and can’t wait to see what she discovers.

Provost Cameron said: “We are extremely fortunate to have so many beautiful, historic buildings in Renfrewshire but it is not often that we take the time to visit them.

“Venues from across the area will open their doors to let us inside next weekend and I can’t wait to take up the opportunity.

“I will be at the Council chambers from 10am until midday so I’d be delighted to see you while I’m also looking forward to visiting the Sma’ Shot Cottages as it is always fascinating to hear the volunteers speak on the history of the weavers.

“So if you’ve always meant to visit Paisley Abbey, or never had the time to walk around Castle Semple, this weekend is the perfect opportunity so don’t miss out and visit as many locations as you can.”

The Renfrewshire Doors Open Day programme is available from all Renfrewshire libraries.

An online version can be downloaded from www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/doorsopendays

For a look forward to what’s coming up across Renfrewshire visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or www.paisley2021.co.uk/events

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Here’s something to entertain all the young dudes

It seems like all the young dudes will be among the audiences at a host of concerts, events and exhibitions being held in Renfrewshire this autumn.

Michael King as David Bowie, second from right, and his band with copies of the latest Renfrewshire Leisure What’s On Guide

That’s according to David Bowie tribute act, Michael King who has got hands on the latest edition of the What’s On Guide produced by Renfrewshire Leisure.

Michael features in Starman – The David Bowie Story, at Paisley Town Hall, on Saturday, September 2.
The Autumn What’s On Guide covers all the performances, events and exhibitions taking place locally from August to December.

And the latest edition has a 1980s style design to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Paisley Arts Centre, which opened on October 31, 1987.

Highlights include the shows from this year’s Spree; for the first time, a Hallowe’en Ball, at Paisley Town Hall and two Christmas tribute nights at Johnstone Town Hall.

As part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Paisley Arts Centre, there will be a display of the venue’s posters through the years; an exhibition from the Visible Fictions theatre company, whose first ventures into theatre were at the Arts Centre and Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre’s presentation of The Gingerbread Man.

And to mark the 30th anniversary of the novel, Espedair Street, by Iain Banks, the late author’s life and his first book, which was set in Paisley, is celebrated with words, music, food and whisky, at an event in Paisley Town Hall, hosted by local playwright, Alan Bissett.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s chief executive, Joyce McKellar said: “As always there are lots of entertaining and interesting shows and events for everyone in culture-rich Renfrewshire.
“And it’s particularly eventful this autumn, as we’re coming up to the 30th anniversary of a local cultural icon that is Paisley Arts Centre.”

The Autumn What’s On Guide can be picked up for free at Paisley Museum, Paisley Arts Centre, the town halls at Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew or download a version on www.renfrewshireleisure.com <http://www.renfrewshireleisure.com>  .

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The Singing Children of Africa Choir set for big Paisley return

A choir of African children are set to return to Paisley for a night of spectacular entertainment as part of their tour around Scotland and Yorkshire.

The Singing Children of Africa Choir, which is made up of youngsters aged nine to 16-years-old from the Jolaurabi School in Mombasa, Kenya, will bring The Angels Tour 2017 to Paisley Town Hall next month.

The group were set up by Scottish charity Educate the Kids, who raise funds towards the youngsters’ education and development by bringing the choir over for concerts around the country.

Since forming in 1998, the charity has built two schools and an orphanage which have provided primary and secondary education for thousands of children.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Renfrewshire Council supporting the event and forms part of the exciting and expanding calendar of cultural events taking place in the area as part of Paisley’s bid to be named UK City of Culture in 2021.

Last month, the town was named as the only Scottish place on the shortlist for the prestigious title.

The Singing Children of Africa Choir last visited Renfrewshire in August 2016 and performed in a number of locations, including Craigielea Care Home, Renfrew, Renfrew High School, Intu Braehead and Glasgow Airport before a main show at the Central Methodist Halls in Gauze Street.

Back by popular demand, the choir’s concert takes place at Paisley Town Hall on Sunday 17 September and will feature a number of guests, including the Renfrewshire Community Gospel Choir.

As well as playing the historic Paisley Town Hall, the choir will also perform shows in Alloa, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Livingston and Yorkshire.

Volunteers Mike and Lynn Baldwin from Renfrew first got involved with the Educate the Kids charity over 10 years ago.

The couple were keen to support the charity after being touched by a story on its work and the Singing Children of Africa Choir in a national newspaper.

Mike Baldwin said: “Lynn was brought to tears after reading a story about the charity’s work and that made us decide that we were going to sponsor a child. We were also asked if we’d be keen to get the choir over for some shows and it’s continued to grow since then.

“After one visit to Renfrewshire, one child called Daniel asked us to come and stay with him in Kenya and a few years later we were finally able to go over. We’ve been to Kenya six times now and did work at the school, as well as providing food, clothing and helping to build a school.

“The children will be staying at the Bible Centre in Inchinnan and will visit a number of places in the area during their stay. The people of Paisley and Renfrewshire are so generous and the charity always loves bringing the children here. We’d love for as many people as possible to come along and see the Singing Children of Africa Choir at Paisley Town Hall.”

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “I am delighted to welcome the wonderful Singing Children of Africa Choir back to Paisley for another fabulous show. The children entertained many people across Renfrewshire on their last visit and it will be a truly special sight to see them perform in Paisley’s famous Town Hall.

“The work of Educate the Kids gives the children a chance to grow up with the education they deserve, which would have been impossible to access without the charity’s help.

“This is another example of the diverse range of cultural activities taking place across Renfrewshire and this is central to our Paisley 2021 programme. Culture improves people’s lives and the Singing Children of Africa Choir project illustrates that while also showcasing some of the superb musical talent we have here in Renfrewshire.”

The choir will perform The Angels Tour in Paisley Town Hall on Sunday 17 September from 7pm to 10pm. Tickets are £8/£5 (conc) + booking fee and are available from the Renfrewshire Leisure box office at https://boxoffice.renfrewshire.gov.uk/show.asp.

Find out how you can sponsor a child at https://www.educatethekids.com/support-a-child/.

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Paisley marks Indian independence anniversary with stunning dance video

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been boosted by a beautifully-made video showing Indian dancers performing against the backdrop of the town’s iconic landmarks.

stills from the video

The video stars dancers from Abhinaya Glasgow Dance Academy and was funded by a grant from the Renfrewshire, Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, created as part of the Paisley 2021 bid.

It has been released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Indian independence (TUESDAY) which will see events taking place across the UK, India and beyond.

The film can be seen now via paisley2021.co.uk and on the 2021 social media channels.

The four-minute-long film – called The Longing – was shot earlier this summer and uses classical Indian dance to tell the story of ‘a beautiful girl’ Rada, who is waiting for her hero Kanan to return.

It is set in the grounds of Paisley’s 850-year-old Abbey, while dancers in traditional costume can be seen performing in front of local architectural treasures such as Paisley Town Hall, Anchor Mills and the cobbled streets of Oakshaw, while the Paisley Pattern also features.

Paisley is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021 as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, the town was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

And Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “We are thrilled to support this wonderful project through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, created to help bring new talent to the area and boost our local creative scene.

“The diversity it shows will be central to our 2021 cultural programme, while the film also highlights the massive contribution the Indian diaspora make to the UK arts scene.

“Everything about the video is stunning – the choreography, direction, cinematography and costumes, and it shows Paisley, the Paisley Pattern, and our wonderful collection of historic buildings at its best.

“Of course Paisley and India are already linked – with our weavers having mastered the production of the original teardrop-motif Kashmiri shawls in the 19th century and created a fashion symbol which spread the Paisley name around the world.

“We are delighted to be celebrating those links for the 21st century through our digital channels, and to be making our own contribution to the 70th anniversary of Indian independence celebrations.”

The dancing was choreographed by Esther Sunija, artistic director of Abhinaya Dance Academy, who teaches Indian dance classes in the town.

Esther said: “With help from Paisley 2021, we wanted to showcase the important buildings of Paisley to people around the world.

“We used the Paisley Pattern onto the sarees and rangoli and also showed the beautiful venues of Paisley, especially the mill and riverside, to help us communicate the story behind the scene.

“The video also raises awareness of the South Asian classical dance of Bharatanatyam, which is part of one of the eight ancient dance forms in India.

“We found Paisley’s heritage buildings go well with Bharatanatyam and are delighted to highlight the diverse cultural influence of Paisley.”
Abhinaya’s classes are open to all will resume after the summer break starting next Monday, in the town’s Wynd Centre, from 6 until 8pm.

They feature two disciplines – Bharatanatyam – one of the most popular classical Indian dance forms, noted for its fixed upper torso, spectacular footwork and sophisticated vocabulary of hand and facial gestures, and Dancercise, which blends aerobics and dance moves with upbeat Bollywood music.

For more information on the bid, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk and for the classes, see www.abhinayaglasgow.org/paisley-2021