Paisley gave a real buddie welcome to the judges who will decide which of the five shortlisted towns and cities will be named UK City of Culture 2021.
The judging panel, led by chairman Phil Redmond CBE, were treated to a tour of Scotland’s largest town where they took in famous sites such as the 12th century Abbey and Victorian-era town hall. They later visited a series of community groups and projects at the Tannahill Centre in the heart of Ferguslie Park to see the town’s diverse range of cultural programmes in action.
During the visit the judges met groups including Renfrewshire’s award-winning youth diversionary project – Street Stuff, Strong Women in Ferguslie Together (SWIFT) and STAR Project which is committed to building safer, more connected and resilient families and communities.
As part of the visit the judges met with some of the members of local sewing group the Feegie Needlers which is made up of nursery kids, young mums and the elderly and aims to teach new skills and encourage social inclusion.
Elaine Carter is one of the members of the group, she said: “It was great to chat to the judges today, introduce them to some of the kids in the group and tell them about what we do – they seemed impressed.
“The whole place was buzzing, the atmosphere was brilliant. Let’s get it!”
During interviews with the media the chair of the judges’ panel, Phil Redmond CBE, said: “I’ve enjoyed going around seeing everything and actually meeting some of the people and seeing the enthusiasm of the people that are getting behind the bid.
“Each city is different and I think one of the great things is how you come and see the commonalities and the differences in each city. It’s been a really great, interesting day and that’s the thing I love about doing this – it’s a real privilege.”
Paisley 2021 bid director, Jean Cameron, said: “It’s been wonderful to welcome the judges to our town to show them the diverse range of culture we have and for them to meet some of the people who have been the voices of Paisley’s bid from the start.
“The competition has already proved positive for Paisley – it has taken awareness of our internationally-significant story to a new level and changed perceptions of the town. It’s also brought a new sense of self-confidence to residents and shown them how the power of culture can be harnessed to change people’s lives for the better.
“Buddies have really helped the town shine – shown what Paisley can bring to the UK and why the town wants the title, needs the title, and will deliver a year of world-class culture in 2021.”
The bid has also been backed by some of the town’s most high-profile figures, including singer Paolo Nutini, who performed an exclusive charity concert in the town last week, actor Gerard Butler, designer Pam Hogg and artist John Byrne who also met the judges during the visit.
Paisley is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021 as part of wider plans to transform the town’s future using its unique story as the home of the world-renowned Paisley Pattern.
The town is the only Scottish place on the final shortlist announced by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea. Paisley will find out if it has been successful in December.
For more information on Paisley’s bid, see www.paisley2021.co.uk