A fund designed to support Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has named projects set to share a £171,000 funding boost – including a musical about the town’s historic Bungalow Bar, an opera inspired by the town’s witch trials, and a festival in Ferguslie Park.


Renfrewshire Council created a Culture, Heritage and Events Fund two years ago to boost the capacity of the local creative scene and create more chances for people to get involved in cultural activity in the run-up to the 2021 bid being lodged.

The initial £500,000 investment was doubled to £1m earlier this year – with 65 projects having already been funded through the £462,000 committed to date.

The five rounds of CHE Fund have seen a total of 242 applications from across Scotland, with a total funding ask of almost £3m.

And members of the council’s leadership board will next week (Wednesday) be asked to approve the list of 15 projects recommended to be funded in the latest round. Highlights include:

– £10,000 to local music charity Loud n Proud for a musical allowing various local youth groups telling the incredible story of the original Bungalow Bar – which hosted many of the biggest names in music;
– £10,000 to Paisley Opera to create a special performance in Paisley Abbey inspired by the town’s famous witch trials – the last mass hanging for witchcraft in Western Europe;
– £20,000 to the New Tannahill Centre for a multi-artform festival in Ferguslie Park featuring local groups such as Paisley YMCA, the Sunshine Recovery Cafe and Quarriers;
– £22,333, to part-fund a ground-breaking collaboration with respected playwright Nicola McCartney to showcase the creativity of Renfrewshire young people who grew up in care, as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People;
– £12,660 to local group Right2Dance to bring a nationally-renowned dance company to town to work with young people during free workshops;
– £9,999 to youth group Create Paisley to produce 26 music videos, giving young people experience in broadcasting and film-making.

The recommendations were made by a specially-convened panel from the Paisley 2021 bid team and based on criteria including the CHE Fund objectives, value for money, public benefit and legacy opportunities.

Paisley was confirmed earlier this year as the only Scottish place on the shortlist for the UK City of Culture competition – with the winner due to be announced by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the end of the year.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is part of a wider push to harness the power of creativity and of our unique heritage story to transform the future of the whole area, and the CHE Fund is one of the key building blocks within that.

“Once again, the applications show the strength and diversity of the local creative scene, and it was a tough job for the panel to whittle that down to the 15 projects they have asked councillors to approve.

“One of the reasons the council created the CHE Fund is we know involvement in cultural activity is good for people’s lives, and we want to make it easier for more people to enjoy those benefits.

“So it is good to see suggested projects based around some of our hard-to-reach and marginalised groups, as well as others offering free access to music, dance and film production to young people.

“At the same time, the CHE Fund is strengthening the case for Paisley become the next UK City of Culture – by bringing expertise from across Scotland here to work with and develop our homegrown talent, and proving we have what it takes to stage top-class programming.”

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk


Founder of Paisley.org.uk in 1998 and constantly strives to change peoples attitudes to the town, Brian is a self described Paisley Digital Champion who promotes Paisley via any means necessary. You can also follow me on X