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Renfrewshire Virtual Reality pilot project allows elderly to access outside world from home

A pilot project is using Virtual Reality to hook up older and isolated members of the community to cultural experiences they would otherwise be unable to access.

Pensioner Ruth Clunie, aged 98 tries out new virtual reality for the housebound 14.12.17

Thanks to support from Renfrewshire Council’s Culture, Heritage and Events (CHE) Fund, housebound and elderly members of Paisley-based Roar Connections for Life, are having their horizons opened up by the technology.

The fund was set up in 2015 as a way of getting people involved in culture and unlocking Renfrewshire’s creative potential as part of Paisley’s bid to win the UK City of Culture 2021 title.

It continues as a key legacy now that the competition is over, with applications from local groups invited for further rounds of funding.

Pensioner Ruth Clunie, aged 98 tries out new virtual reality for the housebound 14.12.17

The ‘VR Over the Doorstep’ project is being tested in the community by people befriended by the charity, which provides preventative, health and wellbeing services for older people.

Film maker and Virtual Reality Artist Simon Bishopp, said: “The idea is to involve isolated and mobility impaired elderly people in the Renfrewshire community to allow them to engage with cultural events and activities that they can’t physically travel to.

“We will visit them with Virtual Reality headsets so they’ll be able to see and interact with things that have happened in the area.

“At the moment we’re going through the testing phase and are making the apps which allows them to travel around virtual spaces – so they can visit physical spaces that we’ve filmed and then engage with things there simply by looking at them.”

The users will be able to go to places like Paisley Museum and by simply by looking at the virtual exhibits, the objects will become larger and closer to them and rotate. Even online UK Casinos.

A narrator will take them through the museum and they will be able to move from one room to the next to create an immersive experience that feels like they’re actually there.”

The six months pilot scheme also aims to offer live stream events like theatre productions.

Virtual Reality can also be used to take the housebound and elderly members to significant places from their past that they wouldn’t normally be able to revisit.

Simon added: “We can take them to spaces that they wouldn’t easily be able to access, like the Coats Observatory in Paisley.

“We also intend to do some live streaming and hope to do that from the new High Street Museum store in Paisley, the Secret Collection, which is full of wonderful exhibits.

“So we will create content on multiple apps and then take that out to see what people think of it. I hope it will give them a sense of mobility and of being able to engage with the community and leaving behind the isolation they can feel.

“We’ve taken a film at the RSPB in Lochwinnoch and the members really enjoyed being able to see what was going outside of where they spend their days and being outside, hearing the sounds and seeing the birds.

“For us that’s a very every day thing, but for them it’s very special.”

Roar has 15 clubs and projects in a range of venues running throughout the week in Renfrewshire.

Roar’s Manager Nicola Hanssen said: “This is a very exciting project. Research has identified that two fifths of all older people say the television is their main company. As this is a very passive activity it doesn’t give people the cognitive stimulation or interactivity that contains health benefits. Our VR Over the Doorstep project will engage people in a new and more meaningful way, which will enrich their lives and their minds.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The UK City of Culture bid about bringing people together and opening up new experiences for people which is what this project does. That doesn’t stop just because we didn’t win the title and we will continue to open up the benefits of culture for all.”

For more information on the CHE Fund, which is still receiving funding applications for cultural events and projects, go towww.paisley2021.co.uk

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Paisley enjoys bumper Christmas in wake of City of Culture bid with footfall up by a third

Paisley enjoyed a bumper shopping bonanza in the run up to Christmas thanks to town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and the WinterFest event.

Local businesses and town centre traders reported soaring sales and a massive spike in festive footfall.

Paisley’s increased profile due to the UK City of Culture 2021 bid and  a series of events including the Christmas Lights switch on and town’s first’s WinterFest , run by Paisley First,  were credited with enticing more people into the heart of the town.

The festival ran from November 24th for four weeks and included a Nutcracker Trail during the first two weeks of December

Peter Clark, Manager of the Paisley Centre said traders enjoyed a lucrative Christmas with customer footfall up by more than a third on last year’s figures.

He said: “For the same period last year we had approximately 65,000 customer visits per week but this year’s figures are showing more than 100,000, which is incredible and a huge increase.

Paisley 2021 Sponsers 23.11.17

“We have been very busy and at weekends every seat in our food court was taken. More people are shopping locally.

“Paisley’s bid for City of Culture really heightened the town’s profile and I think local people also rediscovered their town centre.

“WinterFest has also brought a lot of people in. We had a message on our Facebook page from a visitor who had come here for that but said they didn’t realise they could also do all their Christmas shopping here and stayed.”

He said he expected the increased sales to continue into the New Year, with six new outlets poised to open within the Centre, which has 34 units trading not including the Paisley Market and a food court.

Peter Clark added: “There’s a great buzz about Paisley and it’s a changed place even since last year.”

Paisley First’s Chairman Ian Henderson said:  “There has been a real buzz about Paisley this year and this is in no small part due to some of the great events happening in the town centre as part of the Paisley  campaign for the UK City of Culture 2021.

“It’s important that we continue to showcase all that Paisley has to offer, and the Paisley First WinterFest has been a great example of that.

“Many retailers are reporting a significant increase in footfall and sales volumes, and it’s been great to see the town centre busy in the run up to Christmas, especially with families at weekends.”

Cheryl Wilson, owner of Home and gift store Eigen, said the store had been busier this year.

She said: “We’ve had more customers in and Paisley seems to be busier than usual. I can see a huge difference from when I came on board 18 months ago and I think more people are trying to shop locally.

“It won’t happen overnight but it’s certainly going in the right direction.”

Joe Bisland, co-owner of the White Cart Company, said: “We’ve been busy and the Nutcracker Trail brought lots of family in and we had people visiting the store who wouldn’t normally.

“We’ve had a lot of ladies buying for their friends and we do a range of traditional Christmas toys which sold well.

“As Christmas approached we got increasingly busier and we got a last minute rush when the panic set in the weekend before.”

Gavin Wilson, the owner of record store Feel the Groove, which opened its doors in November 2016, said that overall there has been a general good feeling throughout the town both for business owners and retailers and customers.

He added: “Our sales have been strong and we’ve seen people out with the area and even the UK come into the shop.

“The Christmas product that we sell looks like it’s up on last year in terms of new releases and new albums and present buying.  The whole bid has brought a stronger awareness to the people of Paisley and surrounding areas of the town centre.”

Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said:  “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture created a lot of momentum and we aim to build on that.

“We are investing  £45.7 million in the town centre, with  £10m of that set aside for transport and public realm improvements to support its long-term regeneration.

“This means it will be even easier for people to get here, as well as making it a more attractive place to spend time.

“We are working towards turning our High Street into a cultural hub which will breathe new life into the town centre and bring in footfall to ensure that local traders will thrive.”

Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The UK City of Culture bid put Paisley at the forefront of people’s minds and helped to reposition it on the local and UK stage as a good place to live, work and invest.

“The competition may be over, but work continues to create a new visitor economy based around Paisley’s unique heritage assets, creating jobs and footfall for local traders.”

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The legacy of Paisley’s 2021 UK City of Culture bid endures with Culture, Heritage and Events Fund

The legacy of Paisley’s 2021 bid for UK City of Culture continues with public applications invited from community projects for funding from Renfrewshire Council’s flagship cultural grants programme.

The Culture, Heritage and Events (CHE) Fund is available for organisations looking to stage a cultural event.

One of the key legacies of the town’s bid, it has so far supported 80 projects to the tune of more than £630,000.

Paisley was the only Scottish place on the shortlist for the UK City of Culture 2021 competition alongside Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea and Coventry, which took the title.

The CHE fund aims to raise cultural ambition, enhance participation and unlock creative potential in Renfrewshire.

Application deadlines have just been approved by Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board for the next four rounds of funding.

New applications for 2018/19 will be considered at three levels, from £1,000 and under, from £1,000 to £10,000 and over £10,000.

The first round should be submitted by February 12th 2018, with a decision by 24 April.

A further three rounds will follow, on May 10th, October 10th and December 10th.

The initial fund amount of £500,000 was doubled to £1 million in February this year, with the first five rounds of funding attracting a total of 242 applications from businesses, communities and cultural organisations across Renfrewshire and Scotland.

There have been total funding requests of around £3 million.

Voluntary or community organisations, schools, colleges and universities, independent artists and makers, artist’s collectives, cultural organisations and networks and business, including creative industries, can all apply.

Projects to have received funding so far include teenage animator  Morgan Spence’s Lego video about Paisley and a collaboration between local group Right2Dance and the internationally renowned  Sir Matthew Bourne’s Re:Bourne company .

The projects should contribute to regeneration and can show imaginative use of the townscape or buildings and enhance the annual cultural calendar.

Strengthening cultural capacity –and showcasing the talent of Renfrewshire are among the other objectives.

Renfrewshire Council Leader and Convenor of the Leadership Board, Councillor Iain Nicolson, said: “The UK City of Culture contest may have come to a close but the CHE Fund continues as one of the key legacies of Paisley’s bid.

“Renfrewshire has a great creative scene and the 2021 bid shone a spotlight on that and let people see what was out there, and the CHE Fund will keep allowing that to happen.”

The fund can support a range of activities, such as training and cultural learning opportunities, new and one-off events or enhancements to existing festivals and bodies of work.

For more information on the CHE Fund, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk.

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Paisley UK City of Culture bid helps Renfrewshire to 25% visitor increase

New figures show visitors to Renfrewshire rose by 25% in 2016 – with the news hailed as proof Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid boosted the town.

Paisley missed out on the cultural title last week after a two-year campaign – but the stats, contained within a new masterplan aimed at turning the area into one of Scotland’s key tourist destinations – show the positive impact the bid had.

The sharp rise – with 1.7m visitors last year – means Renfrewshire increased its visitors at a faster rate than other areas with the Glasgow region.

The new Renfrewshire Visitor Plan aims to build on that, setting a series of actions aimed at bringing an extra 590,000 day visitors to Renfrewshire by 2020.

The report – rubber-stamped by members of Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board – includes the following key achievements:

– a new destination brand and website will be launched in early 2018, having been developed in consultation with local people and leaders across Renfrewshire;

– Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 campaign took awareness of what the area has to offer to new levels – with a media reach of 277 million people, including visits by foreign journalists;

– more than 1.1m people attended events or festivals in Renfrewshire over the past five years, with numbers growing by 25% and 23% in 2016 and 2017. This year saw a third of attendees from outwith Renfrewshire, a 93% satisfaction rate, and £1.3m pumped into the local economy;

– new partnerships have been developed with regional and national agencies and detailed work has taken place to better understand the area’s target market;

And key actions listed to help take the area’s visitor economy forward over the next three years include:

– expanding the area’s events programme, with Renfrewshire already due to host the British Pipe Band Championships each year until 2021, and the Royal National Mod in 2021 or 2022, growing existing events such as the Halloween festival and The Spree, and bidding for new events;

– targeting Renfrewshire’s unique cultural and heritage assets to potential visitors, and working with partners to make sure Renfrewshire’s offer is included in national campaigns;

– supporting a growth in new accommodation, working with transport agencies to make it easier to get here and get around, and working with partners to share data, knowledge and training;

Councillor Iain Nicolson, chair of Renfrewshire Council Leadership Board said: “Our disappointment at missing out on the UK City of Culture 2021 title was eased by the knowledge the area is in a stronger position for having bid.

“The new Renfrewshire Visitor Plan shows work to build a new visitor economy is already well under way and gives a clear plan for how the public and private sectors can work together to build on that.

“There’s no question Paisley and Renfrewshire have had their challenges in recent years – but we can address that by promoting the things that set us apart to bring new footfall into our town centres.

“The Paisley 2021 bid was part of a wider plan to do that – the area’s profile has perhaps never been better or higher and awareness of our unique cultural and heritage assets has moved to new levels.

“The area was once the centre of a global industry and the legacy of that is still around us in our buildings and museum collections – while the outlying areas of Renfrewshire offer a wide range of historical gems and great outdoor days out.

“For Renfrewshire to have already recorded a 25% increase in both visitors and event attendees in 2016 shows the extent to which the bid has already delivered results.

“That work was always going to continue regardless of the outcome of the 2021 bid – we now have a great platform on which to build.”

Paisley’s work has also been endorsed the head of Scotland’s tourism authority, with Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland adding: “While it is disappointing Paisley has not been named the 2021 UK City of Culture there is still much to be positive about.

“The bid has transformed Paisley’s reputation, and now Scotland, the UK and the world are all becoming more aware of its fantastic cultural offering.

“2017 saw the town host world-class events like The Spree and Weave Festival, while we can look forward to The Royal National Mòd and the British Pipe Band Championships next year.

“I’d like to say a massive well done to everyone involved for their hard work and dedication to showcase the town’s wonderful cultural offering.

“This is just the beginning of Paisley’s transformation and I look forward to the town’s continued development and all the wonderful events and activities that will come with it.”

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First Minister leads messages of goodwill to Paisley as City of Culture competition comes to an end

Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes Paisley’s UK City of Cuture  bid will lead to ’ lasting benefit’ for the town.

Paisley Abbey and Town Hall Lit in anticipation of the City of Culture 2021 result. 7.12.17

The First Minister has led an outpouring of good wishes for the town with the close of the competition.

Paisley was the sole Scottish place on the shortlist which included Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea and Coventry, who took the title, announced live on BBC’s The One Show in front of a live TV audience of millions.

The contest saw Paisley involve 34,000 residents in the bid across a two year journey to change the town’s future for the better using the town’s unique culture and heritage story.
The First Minister said: “Everyone involved in the Paisley bid, from bid director Jean Cameron to the many people who have been involved
formally and informally over the last two years, can be rightly proud of their efforts.
“To gather the support of businesses, cultural and community groups, and secure the involvement of more than 30,000 people is a tremendous achievement.
“Although they will naturally be disappointed at the result, I believe the bid will lead to lasting benefits for Paisley, in terms of its profile and cultural life, and that is what we should focus on today.”
Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson also sent her best wishes to the town and praised the bid.
She said: “Everyone involved should feel a great deal of pride in the way they put forward such a positive case. It show Paisley is a place on the up.”
She added that the bid means the town will continue to be a ‘magnet for jobs and investment.
A wealth of other political and community voices also sent supportive message to the town.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop  tweeted: “Paisley2021 and all Buddies have made us all proud of
Paisley- you have unleashed a cultural and  creative energy which will propel you on.”
Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell said: “Massive commiserations to Paisley 2021 but you’ve achieved so much during the bid and it will be a springboard for the future. You are a credit to Scotland.”
The University of Glasgow added its voice on social media to tweet: “So disappointed for neighbours Paisley 2021 missing out on being named UK City of Culture2021 – congratulations to Coventry 2021.”
Artist Matt Baker said: “Thank you Paisley 2021 you have held a mirror up to all that is brilliant about Scottish culture and utterly redefined the way the country now sees you.”
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard tweeted: “Huge commiserations to all the Buddies and the Paisley 2021 team who worked so hard to be crowned City of Culture 2021.
“The passion and inspiration shown by all involved has been fantastic and you should all be proud.”
The Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ros Kerslake, said: “There has been an incredible level of support and passion from across communities – a testament to how special the town is and how excited people are for its future.
“Heritage is of course a key part of what makes Paisley unique and we look forward to continuing to invest money raised by National Lottery players into projects across the town.”
Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The outcome is of course disappointing but we are still in a great position compared to where we were two years ago. Our public and private sector partnerships are far stronger and there’s so much goodwill and momentum created by the bidding process.  This is a great opportunity to capitalise on that enthusiasm and renewed confidence for the good of the visitor economy and tourism, as well as the town centre economy.
“The key thing is to maximise that opportunity and take advantage of where we’re at now through the bidding process.”
Sharon McAulay from the Paisley-based STAR Project said: “What an amazing journey we’ve had! Yes we’re gutted we didn’t win but we’re also proud of what we’ve achieved over the past two years. Paisley’s journey is far from over. We’ll continue to be brilliant, creative, and full of potential and our plans to transform our town will also continue. Paisley has great things ahead and my belief in what we can achieve together remains steadfast and true. “
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COMMENT ON UK CITY OF CULTURE 2021 DECISION

Responding to news that Paisley has been unsuccessful in our bid to be crowned UK City of Culture 2021, Labour MSP Neil Bibby said:

 

“The announcement is obviously bitterly disappointing for Paisley, and in particular for all the Bid team staff and community groups who put their hearts and souls into the Paisley 2021 project.

“While the final result might hurt, we should hold our heads up high and be very proud with how far our town made it in this contest. And every Paisley buddy can share that pride.

“I would like to congratulate Coventry on winning the award. Being a UK wide contest meant we were up against very strong competition from across Britain and getting to final five shortlist is still a huge achievement that we should not lose sight of.

“Despite just missing out, Paisley is still a winner. The Paisley 2021 bid has helped put our town back on the map once again. Paisley Buddies and organisations have also made many friends and links with other towns and cities across the UK.

“I believe we owe all those who have shaped the bid and helped take us this far a huge amount of thanks. At this time, it is important to recognise that there wouldn’t have been a bid at all without the vision and leadership of former Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Bid Director Jean Cameron and all the Paisley 2021 staff and volunteers. It has also been fantastic to see thousands of Buddies get behind the bid over the past two years.

“It is now vital moving forward that we utilise the momentum and buzz the project has helped create. I hope and anticipate that Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government will still progress the ambitious plans that were part of the bid irrespective of the result. I look forward to working with them and local people to leave a lasting legacy from Paisley’s bid.”

Renfrewshire Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Eddie Devine added:

“Despite this disappointing result, there are still a huge number of positives we can take from the Paisley 2021 bid. Our efforts to be crowned UK City of Culture 2021 not only united the whole of Paisley, but secured support up and down the country.

“Paisley was up against some fierce competition, but without the shared effort, and shared vision for our town, we would not have come as far as we have.

“It’s vital that we don’t accept this as the end of Paisley’s cultural journey, but merely the beginning. We can continue to celebrate our industrial heritage, our stunning architecture, and our talented Paisley buddies with pride, while also striving for the transformative change that our town needs.”

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‘Our journey will continue’ – official Paisley reaction as UK City of Culture 2021 title decided

The team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 have thanked the people of the town for their ‘incredible effort’, while promising Paisley’s journey will continue – after Coventry was tonight named the next UK City of Culture.

Paisley was the only Scottish place to make the shortlist for the 2021 title, awarded every four years by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

But Coventry was chosen as the successor to current host Hull, announced tonight by UK Arts Minister John Glen and chair of the judging panel, Brookside creator Phil Redmond, to a live TV audience of millions on the BBC’s The One Show.

Hundreds of members of the local community and 2021 bid partners had gathered to hear the live announcement at the Paisley HQ of the University of the West of Scotland.

Paisley’s bid was part of a wider plan to transform the town’s future using its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story as the one-time home of the world’s thread industry and the place which gave its name to the globally-recognised design icon, the Paisley Pattern.

And bid bosses spoke of ‘heartbreak mixed with pride’ after a two-year campaign which energised the town – while promising the momentum created by the bid will continue.

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “We are of course heartbroken not to win the title as we know how much the people of the town poured into this – but at the same time those hearts are bursting with pride at what Paisley achieved in the past two years.

“Our warmest congratulations go to Coventry – they pulled together a really impressive body of support from their partners and we wish them all the best for 2021.

“We also want to thank DCMS and the judging panel for giving us the chance to show the world what makes Paisley special – taking part in the competition was a really positive experience for everyone.

“More than 34,000 people – equivalent to almost half of Paisley’s population – added their voices and ideas to the town’s bid….and our thanks go to every single one of you for an incredible effort and those ideas will still be taken forward.

“We are proud to be the only town to ever make the shortlist and by some distance the smallest place to ever get this far in the competition – few places of Paisley’s size can claim to have given the world so much over the years, and the town punched above its weight once again.

“Our bid was based on a belief that culture changes people’s lives, and that by harnessing that power while promoting what sets us apart, Paisley can change its future for the better – and the people of the town made that vision their own over the past two years.

“The incredible energy they created and the new partnerships they have formed will still be channelled in that direction. The next chapter in our story is only just beginning.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board Councillor Iain Nicolson added: “We were very much in it to win it – but the disappointment of missing out is eased by knowing how much stronger we are for taking part.

“The bid was part of a bigger plan to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage assets to make it a key destination for visitors and events while reigniting the creativity spark which is in our DNA – and while winning the bid would have accelerated the journey, that journey will continue.

“The bid boosted Paisley’s reputation, created new awareness of why we matter to Scotland, the UK, and the world, and raised our profile to unprecedented levels, while giving locals a reason to believe in Paisley again.

“We now have a platform from which to attract the type of footfall, investment and partnership we couldn’t have attracted before – something which is already happening as a result of the bid, with Paisley seeing a 25% rise in both visitors and event attendees in 2016.

“Work to revitalise our town centre and economy is already happening– with a £110 million investment in the town centre and our venues under way, and £276 million of major infrastructure projects taking place in Renfrewshire as part of the Glasgow Region City Deal over the next decade.

“We are also reinventing our textile heritage for the 21st century while bringing more visitors here by building on our already-successful events programme and launching a new destination brand in 2018.

“And the £1 million Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund has allowed the local community to define culture on their own terms – and that remains as a key legacy of the bid process.

“We thank everybody who played a role in making this happen – because Team Paisley can from here still achieve great things.”

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St Mirren continue to fly the flag for the town’s UK City of Culture bid at Paisley 2021 Stadium

St Mirren FC will continue to fly the flag for Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid with an extension to a deal to keep its stadium name in place until the end of May 2018.

If the town takes title there will be an option to extend the sponsorship to retain the name of the Paisley 2021 Stadium until May 2022.

The news is announced as the club erected new signage outside the stadium and is an extension of the original two year two-year sponsorship and stadium naming rights deal struck with Renfrewshire Council in November 2015.

The venue was renamed from St Mirren Park to mark Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

Paisley is shortlisted for the title alongside Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea. The winner will be announced tomorrow evening by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which organised the competition.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “St Mirren are at the heart of the community and we are delighted to have their continued support. Paisley’s bid journey has been a positive one and will continue no matter what the outcome.

“The Paisley 2021 stadium forms part of this legacy and keeps the name going.”

St Mirren Director Tony Fitzpatrick said: “The fortunes of the town and the club are interlinked and we are delighted to continue with our support of Paisley 2021.

“A winning year of culture would be great for both the town and the club.

“With the UK City of Culture decision imminent, we wish Paisley the very best of luck in its bid for the title.”

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Final messages of support pour as Paisley waits on UK City of Culture 2021 decision

The people of Paisley now have just hours to wait to find out if their town will be crowned the next UK City of Culture – as a deluge of support for Paisley pours in.

The winner of the 2021 title will be announced live on BBC’s The One Show on Thursday evening from current host Hull.

Paisley is the only Scottish place – and first-ever town – to make the shortlist for the 2021 title, awarded every four years by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, along with Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

And the town has seen an outpouring of best wishes – with a DCMS-endorsed social media focus on Paisley generating a total reach of almost 300,000 people from the Paisley 2021 accounts in just 48 hours on Monday and Tuesday.

There was also backing from cultural, political and media heavyweights including broadcaster and former director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor, who said: “I think it is a credible candidate for the award, and I hope it wins.”

There was also support from former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell – who has multiple connections to the town – and said: “Creativity and spirit remain intact in Paisley and the UK City of Culture bid has captured this.”

The town’s bid is part of a wider plan to transform its future using its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story as the one-time home of the world’s thread industry and the globally-recognised design icon, the Paisley Pattern.

And Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron has sent a final message to supporters ahead of the decision.

She said: “We’ve had some fantastic support in the past few days – as we have throughout the bid – and we thank everyone who has joined Team Paisley for this massive moment in our history.

“The two years since Paisley launched its UK City of Culture 2021 bid have been a wonderful journey and it’s been an honour to have been part of it.

“The bid has already changed Paisley for the better – taking our profile to new levels, raising awareness of our unique and overlooked stories, transforming the town’s reputation, and giving a sense of self-confidence back to a town which has suffered many blows in recent years.

“And it’s been a grassroots mass movement. People throughout Paisley and beyond have united behind a shared vision for the town and defined what culture means to them.

“Put simply, there is nothing with greater scope to transform Paisley’s future than winning this title, and the economic and social legacy it will leave.

“It will harness the power of culture to improve health, well-being and life chances, and will change lives in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities.

“Having been in Hull this week for the final presentation to DCMS we’ve seen at first-hand the massive investment which has flowed in ahead of their year in the spotlight and the enthusiasm local people have for being UK City of Culture hosts.

“While Paisley can and will use its unique selling points to drive new footfall and make the town a key destination for visitors, events and creative industry no matter what happens, the boost from hosting the 2021 title will turbocharge our journey.

“With an international airport on our doorstep and major investment in our town centre and historic venues confirmed, we will be ready to host a party in 2021 to which everyone is invited – and a warm Buddie welcome is guaranteed.

“We send our best wishes to our friends in our fellow bidding places and we thank DCMS for giving us this platform to show why we matter to Scotland, the UK and the world.”

It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £176m economic boost and create and sustain more than 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period.

Since Paisley’s bid launched in 2015, more than 34,000 people – almost equivalent to half the town’s population – have engaged in conversations around it.

The bid has also been backed by more than 200 businesses, including big names such as Glasgow International Airport, global drinks giant Diageo and the world’s largest industrial thread manufacturer Coats PLC.

Renfrewshire Council has also confirmed a £46m investment in venues and town centre infrastructure to get the town ready to host, while the Scottish Government has confirmed financial support if Paisley wins the title.

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Clark Contracts the latest firm to back Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021

It has been part of the fabric of Paisley for almost four decades and now Clark Contracts has backed the town’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

Paisley 2021 Sponsers Clark Contacts 23.11.17

Set up in 1978, the firm has grown from a one-man operation to now employing more than 250 staff and boasting a turnover of £80m.

Clark Contracts has joined an impressive sponsor list of 15 organisations, including companies with local roots and global links, who have pledged a combined £300,000 if the town takes the title.

The privately owned construction, refurbishment and maintenance contractor is proud of its training record and even has its own academy which has received recognition, winning The Construction News Awards Training Excellence award for 2017.

The ROCCO Business Awards also recognised Clark Contracts as its Employer of the Year for Renfrewshire.

More than a fifth of the workforce are studying towards formal qualifications including modern apprenticeships and higher education courses and the company also funds a Construction Management, Quantity Surveying and Management Masters course at Glasgow Caledonian University.

In the past five years, 13 staff members have graduated with honours degrees, with the same number set to graduate within the next four years.

Managing Director Gordon Cunningham said: “Having been founded in Paisley and operating here for nearly 40 years, it is our pleasure to back Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture for 2021.

“Over half of our 267 employees are based from our Paisley office and over a quarter of our employees live in Renfrewshire.”

Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Paisley 2021 Executive Bid Team, visited the firm to mark its backing of the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

Paisley is on the shortlist for the title along with Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea and the decision will be announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which organises the competition, on Thursday evening.

Bob Grant said: “The Renfrewshire business community has embraced Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 because it can see the huge opportunity to reinvigorate our town’s economy. It’s great to see a company with longstanding local roots such as Clark Contracts get on board.

“Like the other firms who have backed the bid, they can see the opportunity to employ new staff, operate in new markets and up-skill their people.

“The business community has also embraced the idea of working with culture and cultural organisations.”

The sponsor list for Paisley’s bid includes international drinks giants Chivas Brothers and Diageo and life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Hillington-based haulage firm Gordon Leslie Group branded a truck that has travelled the length breadth of the UK, emblazoned with Paisley 2021 logo.

The world’s largest industrial thread manufacturer Coats, which started life in the town has also backed the bid, while Glasgow Airport marked its formal endorsement of the town’s title ambitions with Paisley themed art work at the check in area.

WH Malcolm wrapped the backs of two trailers with the Paisley 2021 logo to show its support, while intu Braehead, held a Paisley 2021 day with local musicians and youth groups.

Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and Paisley First, which represent more than 900 businesses between them, have also thrown their weight behind the town’s title ambitions, as has the Mount Stuart Trust and a further anonymous sponsor.

They are joined by businesses with local roots, MacAsphalt, Morrison Construction and the Scottish Leather Group.