A pride of colourful lions will be the ‘mane’ attraction in Paisley from this weekend as the town’s first-ever public arts trail gets ready to roar into life.
The 25 creatively-designed lion sculptures which make up the Pride of Paisley will showcase the town’s heritage and history by merging colour, art and creativity to draw visitors, shoppers and tourists.
Streets around the town will become a kaleidoscope of colour thanks to business regeneration group Paisley First’s bold and unique project, taking place as part of the push towards the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.
Paisley already boasts some incredible architecture, including Paisley Abbey and the Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, as well as a respected live music scene, a burgeoning cafe culture and a history steeped in the rich tapestry of its thread mills and weaving.
Now the team at Paisley First, led by Andrew Mitchell, manager of Business Improvement District (BID), hope to see people flooding in from far and wide to take a look at the kings of the jungle – and the town itself – until September 25.
Public arts trails like this have been a roaring success, with Wild At Art events elsewhere in the UK bringing a boost in shopping centre footfall by around 25 per cent, a sales hike of almost 20 per cent and a 39 per cent increase in the number of visitors.
Andrew said: “Fantastic projects similar to ours have brought many benefits to places like Aberdeen, Hamilton and Norwich in the past.
“We know our incredible lions will be popular with people, bring them to Paisley and keep them coming back for more.
“These are exciting times for Paisley with the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 and we are confident people will come to the town to see our lions and have their eyes opened to all of the wonderful things the town centre and surrounding area has to offer.”
Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 Bid Director, said: “The Pride of Paisley is already capturing hundreds of people’s imaginations, from the schoolchildren, businesses and artists already involved in the project.
“It’s a great chance for everybody to get round the town, discover their favourite lion, and really see the town as they’ve never seen it before.”
Community is at the heart of the lions project and the heritage trail will raise money for Accord Hospice in Paisley and St Vincent’s Hospice in Howwood.
At the end of the event, the Pride of Paisley lions will be auctioned and all profits will go to these facilities.
The trail is an exciting thing for all the family to experience and over the 12 weeks, people young and old can enjoy these kings of the jungle in all their glory as they take up home in the streets and open spaces of Paisley.
Forty eye-catching mini lion sculptures designed by school pupils across Renfrewshire will add to the trail’s sense of fun and community.
You will be able to see these taking pride of place in local businesses throughout summer, before they return to the schools after the summer break.
PACE Theatre Company, a registered charity working closely with young people, schools and national organisations, was set up in Paisley back in 1988.
Executive director David Wallace, who started PACE, is heavily involved in the Pride of Paisley as the Project Leader.
David said: “At PACE, we take great pride in helping to develop young people’s creative potential and this public art trail will help do just that – and more – for Paisley.
“I would encourage people living here to become tourists in their own town by getting out there to follow the trail. And I’d say to anyone who has never visited before to come along and discover everything the town has to offer.”
The big launch kicks off in County Square at 11am with a performance by PACE Theatre Company, followed by Lion Fish Stilt Walkers at 11.20am and Black Eagles Acrobats at noon.
From 12.30pm the RockUs Choir will perform for half an hour before the stilt walkers and acrobats bring things to a close around 3pm. There will also be face painting from 11am until 2pm and miniature lion painting from 11am to 2pm at The Piazza.
The art trail’s headlining sponsors are: West College Scotland, University of the West of Scotland, Renfrewshire Leisure, The Piazza, Paisley First, Paisley 2021 and PACE Theatre Company.
Find out more about our sponsors by visiting www.prideofpaisley.co.uk
More information on Paisley’s bid for UK CIty of Culture 2021 is at www.paisley2021.co.uk