Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 today took a step forward as proposals including a £56.7m transformation of the town’s museum were given the green light.

The ambitious plans to turn the existing Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based on the town’s unique textile history are among a package of measures designed to put people at the heart of the bid.


Councillors on the Economy and Jobs Policy Board today approved a wide-ranging package of funding, including:

– £15m towards the museum revamp, with an application for a further £15m to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund;

– a two-year sponsorship deal with St Mirren which will see the local football club change the name of their stadium to support the bid;

– £3.7m to fund the fit-out of a publicly-accessible museum store in a vacant unit on the town’s High Street;

– a £500,000 culture, heritage and event fund to support the local creative community and tap into the town’s cultural potential;

– another £2.7m earmarked from existing resources to support the potential development of a new library in the town centre;

Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 was publicly launched last week with an event in Paisley Abbey, at which the new Paisley 2021 brand was unveiled.

The museum revamp is the flagship project of the council’s ambitious plans to transform Paisley’s future using culture and heritage, and is intended to be the catalyst for new town centre business to spring up around it.

The proposals would see an extension built into the hillside beside the building – and experts believe the project would triple visitor numbers to 150,000 per year, creating almost 250 jobs and generating £89m for the local economy.

The new museum store – due to open in 2017 in the basement of the former Littlewoods store on Paisley High Street – will make items not on display at the main museum available for the public to see, and will provide educational benefits.

And the culture, heritage and events fund will allow local people and groups to apply for grants to run events which contribute to the City of Culture bid.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This is a hugely significant day for Paisley and Renfrewshire – the measures approved by councillors will take the ongoing rebirth of Paisley town centre to an entirely new level.

“Through careful management of our own resources, the council has been able to set aside funds which will go a long way towards transforming the town into a thriving destination for heritage and cultural tourism and business.

“Of course the museum project doesn’t depend on winning UK City of Culture 2021 – we will deliver on our regeneration plans if we win or not, albeit the title would turbocharge that process.

“One of the key aims of the bid is to build confidence and pride in everything Paisley has to offer – this town’s contribution to the world has been absolutely massive and I don’t want anybody to be shy in shouting about it.

“The fantastic reaction we have had to last week’s launch of the UK City of Culture 2021 bid from the local community and beyond shows people see that.

“And working in partnership with St Mirren we will be able to help spread that message to a massive audience throughout Scotland and the UK.

“The measures approved today – in particular the creative fund – means the people of Paisley now have the route through which they can make the bid their own and I want them to do that. Together, we can make this happen.”

For more information about Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid, see the new website at