Plans to use the momentum of Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid to help drive a long-term cultural, social and economic transformation of the area are to go before councillors next week.
Renfrewshire Council and its partners have been planning how the town’s bid journey will continue, by building on the positive platform the bid created, and the widespread community support that drove Paisley’s campaign.
Paisley was the only Scottish place and first-ever town to make the shortlist for the prestigious competition, run by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Feedback from DCMS says Paisley was viewed as ‘a very strong contender’ and the decision to shortlist the bid was ‘an easy one’, while praising the town’s passion and commitment to using culture to tackle social problems, and describing the Paisley bid’s community engagement as ‘exemplary’.
The Paisley 2021 Partnership Board – set up to oversee the bid and bringing together business, cultural, educational, community, health and political representatives – has already confirmed it will continue and will deliver and drive a legacy plan, with some partners intending to maintain their original financial pledges.
That detailed legacy plan will be finalised by the Partnership Board in March – but a report outlining the key points of the local authority’s contribution towards the plan is now going before the council’s Leadership Board
It will continue the ambition to achieve the bid’s original long-term aims to significantly grow Paisley’s creative economy, transform its reputation, see the town recognised for its cultural excellence, lift communities out of poverty, and turn Paisley town centre into a vibrant destination.
And the council will continue to lead on delivering the following:
– the planned £100m-plus investment in venues and infrastructure, including the project under way to turn Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor destination, major internal revamps to transform Paisley Town Hall and Arts Centre, upgrading the sporting facilities at St James Playing Fields and creating new space for outdoor events and festivals, a new library on the High Street, and improvements to the town centre streetscape and road system;
– a new Paisley destination brand and website will also be unveiled in the next few weeks to build on the national and international profile created by the bid and promote the area as an attractive place to visit, live and invest;
– an enhanced cultural events and festivals programme over the next four years to deliver the best of what was planned for 2021, attract visitors to Paisley, and strengthen the local cultural sector;
Plans will also be developed to grow the area’s creative economy through a new apprenticeship programme, support for creative businesses and a new volunteer strategy.
Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We must do everything to build on the impact of bidding for UK City of Culture and the momentum it created.
“The campaign took the town’s profile to new levels – with hundreds of millions of people around the world getting the chance to see or hear something positive about Paisley – transformed our reputation, raised awareness of our unique story, and brought self-confidence back to the town.
“It also generated a town-wide discussion about Paisley’s future – with more than 36,000 people engaging with the bid by the time the final submission was made, and new partnerships and relationships developed locally and nationally which will continue to work in Paisley’s interest.
“And it also firmly established the idea that Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage assets can be used to transform its future – and not just in an economic sense, but also through social impact, by harnessing the power of culture to boost health and well-being, and help people out of poverty.
“We may not have won the title – but the important point is we are still going to deliver our vision and many of the aspirations that informed our bid.
“The report going to the leadership board offers an initial outline of those next steps, and as chair of the Paisley Partnership Board I look forward to revealing the detailed action plan with our partners.
“With major investment in our cultural venues, a new destination brand and website set to launch, an enhanced events and festivals programme in the years ahead, and new funding to support local artists and help the local cultural sector grow, there is lots ahead to be excited by.”
The council’s leadership board will meet on Wednesday 21 February.