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The first images showing how a vacant former retail unit at the heart of Paisley’s High Street will be turned into a 21st-century community facility housing library services are today revealed.

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Construction will start soon on the £7m Paisley Learning and Cultural Hub – a new modern community and educational facility which will bring new footfall to the town centre.

When it opens in summer 2021, the building will provide a new digitally-connected home for a range of services, including those currently offered at Paisley Central Library.

As the images released today show, that will include:

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– a comprehensive internal remodelling of the existing building, over four floors;

– an attractive ground-and-first-floor frontage with a modern look – which complements the High Street surroundings and preserves the historic features on the building’s upper floors;

– children’s library with areas for areas for reading, play, storytelling and learning;

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– IT areas and suite – offering free public digital access in the heart of the town centre

The new facility is the latest example of how Renfrewshire Council is helping repopulate the town’s High Street by finding new cultural and community uses for vacant retail property.

It follows Paisley: The Secret Collection – the UK’s first publicly-accessible High St museum store –which opened two years ago in the basement of the town’s former Littlewoods store.

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The four-floor unit at 22a High Street which will house the learning and cultural hub was last occupied by clothing chain Internacionale – but has been empty for a decade.

The work is part of a wider investment in the town’s venues and outdoor spaces which will see Paisley Museum transformed into a world-class home for the town’s internationally-significant collections, and Paisley Town Hall kept at the heart of local life as a landmark entertainment venue.

The project includes £1.5m funding from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and is being delivered on behalf of the council by hub West Scotland who have appointed Collective Architecture to create the new design and main contractor CCG to deliver the refurbishment.

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, which will operate the facility, said: “We are delighted to be able to reveal these images, which show a modern and accessible community resource for people of all ages to learn and be inspired.

“We are putting the power of culture to change lives at the heart of everything we do – so putting a building offering library services at the heart of Paisley High Street is a bold statement of intent.

“The Learning and Cultural Hub will bring back into use a building which had been empty for some time, and had been allowed to deteriorate by previous owners.

“The future for Paisley town centre is in finding new ways to repopulate vacant retail units with cultural, leisure and community uses which will give people a reason to come into the town centre.

“As well as hosting library services, it will be able to host events and book readings – helping bring footfall into the High Street and supporting surrounding businesses.”

Iain Marley, hub West’s CEO said: “We are delighted to partner with Renfrewshire Council and lead the delivery of this very important project.

“The council has a very clear and powerful vision for the role the Learning and Cultural Hub will play in the rejuvenation of the High Street and the benefits that the investment that it will bring for residents and visitors.

“We are proud to help make this vision a reality and ensure the project maximises employment, training and other opportunities for local communities and businesses.”

Paisley Central Library is currently operating from a temporary building next to the Lagoon Leisure Centre, having moved from its former home next to Paisley Museum in 2018.

Renfrewshire Heritage Library remains open at Abbey Mill and will move into the museum when it reopens in 2022.

The former Paisley Central Library building at the top of the High Street will form part of the expanded Paisley Museum when it reopens in 2022.

For more information see www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/paisley

Paisley Museum

Plans to completely transform Paisley Museum into a world-class visitor destination telling the town’s unique stories including that of the globally admired, Paisley pattern, have taken a major step forward as The National Lottery Heritage Fund today announced £3.83million support for the project.

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The four buildings which make up Scotland’s first municipal museum, including the country’s first public observatory, will be ambitiously re-designed and extended by an award-winning international team, including  the architects AL_A and exhibition designers Opera Amsterdam, to create an exciting new experience for visitors.

Paisley Museum

The new, contemporary galleries and exhibitions will double the number of objects on display and be fully accessible so that visitors can explore the town’s rich heritage and its part in the story of the famous teardrop Paisley pattern textile, from the shawls of Kashmir to the haute couture of rock stars. Inspiring learning zones, improved social spaces, a new cafe, shop and cloakroom facilities will add to the Museum’s appeal, as will a new, welcoming entrance surrounded by a courtyard and gardens.

Paisley Museum

The revamped museum is forecast to attract 125,000 visits a year, almost four times the current numbers, and create a £79m economic boost over 30 years. It is the cornerstone of Renfrewshire Council’s vision to bring new life to the town through investment in heritage and culture. This has included the opening of the UK’s first publicly accessible high street museum store, Paisley: The Secret Collection,  and the conservation and repair of key buildings which make up the town’s historic core through a scheme funded with £2m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“This project has been driven by the passion of the Paisley community to put their unique heritage on an international stage. With the help of National Lottery funding, new life will be breathed into these heritage buildings giving Paisley’s wonderful textiles and other treasures the prominence they deserve, while also bringing a new confidence to the town.”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, said: “We want to thank everyone connected to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their fantastic support.

“It will help us deliver a world-class museum which will take the town’s unique and fascinating stories to new audiences, showcase Paisley’s internationally-significant collections, and bring new life and footfall to the wider area.

“It will create a new accessible hub at the heart of life in the town for the local community – local groups are already co-producing the incredible stories which will populate the reopened museum, and we look forward to continuing to work with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and others over the years ahead to deliver on that.”

The new museum is expected to open in 2022.

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PAISLEY’S Shawl Collection has been given high praise by the national body that helps develop Scotland’s museums.

Museums Galleries Scotland made the comments as they unanimously renewed the Recognised Status of the shawl collection held by Renfrewshire Museums.

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Chair of the Recognition Committee, Dr Katie Stevenson also said that the review submitted by Renfrewshire Leisure, who operates museums locally, was of such a high quality, it may be sent to other museums as a model for them to follow.

Dr Stevenson said: “The committee felt that throughout the report there was a strong cultural voice, a clear curatorial succession plan and that digitisation of the collection was impressive.

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“Committee members noted that the importance of curatorial and research expertise was very strong in the work of the Paisley Shawl Collection and highly commended the approach to supporting the collection.”

Feedback to Renfrewshire Leisure from Museums Galleries Scotland also said that the approach to Recognised Status was commendable; the enhanced collection knowledge and international visits and links were impressive, as was the curatorial expertise and the committee welcomed the strong entrepreneurial approach.

The Recognition Scheme is run by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government to celebrate, promote and invest in Nationally Significant Collections.

Susan Jeffrey, Research and Collections Co-Ordinator for Renfrewshire Leisure said: “This is an important recognition of what an amazing collection we have.

“It’s fantastic that our Paisley Shawl Collection continues to merit Recognised Status.”

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes added:

“Our staff work extremely hard to share their knowledge of the collections with visitors both at home and from all over the world, by carrying out research, giving talks and providing learning activities.

“We’re delighted to see their work to promote and preserve the Paisley Shawls collection being recognised.”

The Paisley Shawl Collection is a central part of the Paisley Museum Reimagined Project and the public will have the chance to see enhanced displays of the collection, as well as other collections, when the museum reopens in 2022.

People can see examples of Paisley Shawls together with looms and other weaving equipment by booking a tour of Paisley: The Secret Collection museum store, at 9 High Street Paisley by emailing tours@renfrewshireleisure.com or by phoning 0141 618 5129.

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Indepen-dance 4 is back out on tour with GROW this Autumn and is heading to Peebles, Johnstone, Edinburgh, East Kilbride, Lockerbie, Musselburgh and Banchory.

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It’s the first day of spring and tiny tendrils of new life are peeping out of the ground, stretching their way into the sunshine and producing a riot of glorious colour. GROW is a curious, hypnotic and playful adventure for 3-5 year olds!

GROW is brought to you by Indepen-dance 4, Scotland’s inclusive professional dance company. It is directed by Anna Newell, who has been described by the Guardian as ‘a hero of children’s theatre.’ Award-winning composer, David Goodall’s entrancing musical score reflects Sunday Herald Culture Award winner, Hayley Earlam’s mesmerising choreography. GROW is set in an array of springtime colours by theatre designer Brian Hartley.

Johnstone Town Hall

Fri 11 Oct
11.30am
£4
0300 300 1210 | renfrewshireleisure.com/whats-on

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JENNIFER Wilkie fears that one day she will be completely deaf.

But the 29-year-old from Paisley is determined that if and when that day comes she’ll be prepared and still be able to communicate.

Jennifer has joined Renfrewshire Leisure’s Sign Language Club, which meets several times a week at Paisley Arts Centre.

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She is joined by dozens of other people who want to learn British Sign Language (BSL) in a fun and relaxing way.

An Early Years Excellence and Equity Lead, at a local children’s centre, Jennifer explains:

“My main reason for learning BSL is to prepare me for the day I don’t have any hearing at all.

“I have profound hearing loss that is helped by two hearing aids, which I use every day and I can’t function without them.

“My hearing has slowly become worse over the years and there is no way of knowing if I will lose all my hearing and when this might happen.”

She continues: “It became apparent when I was young that I had hearing problems, but no one knows what has caused my deafness.

“I joined the Sign Language Club so I can communicate with people if my hearing ever goes completely. My mum comes to the club with me and we both pass on what we have learned to our family, so if the day ever comes that I am completely deaf, they will be able to communicate with me as well.”

Jennifer is urging other people to join the Sign Language Club and learn BSL from profoundly deaf tutor Graham Dow and BSL qualified David O’Rorke.

She says: “I would encourage everyone to come along and learn BSL. It’s such an essential skill to have to allow everyone to communicate and to lessen the barriers for deaf people.

“Graham and David who run the classes are very motivational, but make the classes very relaxed for everyone. The have inspired me to learn even more about sign language and I want to go on to gain a BSL qualification”

A new family BSL group has recently been started at Paisley Arts Centre, every Saturday, between noon and 1pm. Beginners meet on a Saturday, between 11am and noon and a Monday between 7pm and 8pm. The intermediate group meets on a Monday between 6pm and 7pm.

Anyone interested in coming along to the Sign Language Group should contact Emma Armstrong, on 0300 300 1210.

Paisley Halloween Festival - Big Grey

For the first time, this year’s Paisley Halloween Festival will feature a spooky silent disco where party-goers can show off their best Monster Mash and Thriller dance moves.

Part of the award-winning annual festival, taking place on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 October, the open-air silent disco, delivered by Silent Knights, is a family-friendly activity promising plenty of dancing, DJs, singing and a whole lot of Halloween fun.

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Taking place in the heart of the town in Dunn Square, there will be a series of 40-minute sessions for families and festival-goers to head along to over the two-day event. They will be provided with wireless headphones and can select their tunes of choice.

There will also be two relaxed disco slots suitable for those with additional support needs and their families and carers. During these time slots the music will be turned down in the headphones and there will be more room to dance around. These sessions will take place on Friday from 5pm to 5.40pm and Saturday 2pm to 2.40pm. A walk-in Sensory Safe Space will also be available in the POP store in the Piazza Shopping Centre during the festival. This will be a relaxed space specially created for individuals with additional support needs and their carers.

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Event DJs will be spinning tracks over three channels from Halloween hits to classic Ibiza dance anthems and pro-dancers will be on hand with classic dance moves that will keep everyone moving all day long.

The festival is being delivered in partnership with acclaimed outdoor theatre specialists, Cirque Bijou. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to join in the fun with a huge range of Halloween-themed activities including the dark circus style Halloween parade, aerial performances, workshops, street theatre and musical performances, scary movie screenings, live stage acts, creepy installations and a Halloween Fun Fair.

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Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The popular Paisley Halloween Festival is one of the most highly anticipated events in Renfrewshire’s annual calendar. Every year it gets bigger and bolder and this year is no exception.

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“The Silent Disco is sure to be another exciting addition to the creative programme, drawing festival-goers right into the heart of Paisley town centre and offering a fantastic, fun, family experience.

“The support of partners like EventScotland has helped us grow our ambitious major events programme and establish the town as one of Scotland’s key cultural destinations in recent years. We look forward to continuing to deliver top class events in Renfrewshire in the future.”

The Paisley Halloween Festival, which was supported in 2018 through the Year of Young People event fund, was awarded £16,950 of National Programme funding from EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate for this year’s event.

The Silent Disco is accessible for all abilities and is recommended for ages 4 and over but all ages are welcome. Under 2s do not require a ticket but cannot be provided with headphones.

Tickets are on sale now and cost £5 for adults and £3 for kids (under 14 years old). A family ticket (two adults and two kids) is available for £14. Prices include booking fees.

To book tickets for the Paisley Halloween Festival Silent Disco please visit: www.paisley.is/discover/silentdisco/.  To find out more about the event please visit www.paisley.is/halloween.

sma shot day

Sma’ Shot Day 2019 was a fantastic day out for thousands of Paisley buddies as we watched the parade come down from Brodie Park at the Dooslan Stane to its new finish point right beside Sma’ Shot Cottages themselves, lots to do, great bit of sunshine went down well too as Tony Lawler who has been the Charleston Drummer now for 27 years.

Brian McGuire captured the parade from start to finish and even some bits of the main stage before the finale.

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The Sma’ Shot celebration always takes place on the first Saturday in July – to mark the time of year when the weavers and their families would traditionally take their holidays.

This year will be no different – everyone is invited to join the annual party this Saturday 6 July from 12 noon to 5pm. And with almost 50 events taking place across 20 different venues, this year’s celebration promises to be the best yet!

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Festivities will get underway at noon as the colourful parade leaves Brodie Park, heading for Paisley Arts Centre led by the tuck of the Charleston Drum. The parade this year will feature local groups, performers, spectacular floats and giant puppets, all co-ordinated by parade specialists Bridgeman Arts.

2019 will also see Sma’ Shot Day return to its roots, quite literally, by moving to the streets around the historic Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley’s town centre; with Shuttle Street, New Street, Witherspoon Street and Brown’s Lane all set to come alive with music, theatre, poetry, crafts and lots of family-friendly activities.

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Amongst these activities there will of course be the Burning of the Cork (1.20pm within the grounds of Paisley Arts Centre) which sees the ‘Corks’ – the middlemen between the owners and the weavers – meet their fate at the hands of the working weavers in spectacular fashion. Right2Dance will deliver a short pre-Burning of the Cork performance with live music in front of Paisley Arts Centre at 1.15pm.

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Plus, there will be lots of opportunities to learn a new craft at a series of artists workshops taking place all over Paisley. Follow the Creative Craft Trail for mural painting, jewellery making, embroidery and loads more.

The Sma’ Shot Cottages will also be open 12 noon til 5pm for your chance to see what life was really like for the weavers in the 19th century. Catch a guided tour and watch live weaving demonstrations with Paisley Museum’s textiles expert, Dan Coughlan. We also recommend a trip to Paisley Thread Mill Museum to complete your weaving experience on the industry’s most celebrated day of the year.

Download the Paisley.is handy event map and start planning your day!

 

Paisley’s annual Spree festival has today announced its biggest line-up yet – with Glasvegas, Gruff Rhys, PP Arnold and Hue and Cry among the acts coming to town this October.

The festival will take place over nine days from 11 to 19 October with the bulk of the action in a specially-erected Spiegeltent beside Paisley Gilmour Street station – and with a bigger tent than in previous years allowing 500-person shows.

Now in its eighth year, the festival is one of the centrepieces of Renfrewshire Council’s major events programme which has made Paisley one of Scotland’s key cultural destinations in recent years.

The Spree 2019 was programmed by Regular Music – who work with some of the biggest names in the industry as the team behind the Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand and the Edinburgh Castle Concerts – and is this year sponsored by Tennent’s Lager.

The festival kicks off on Friday 11 October with a tribute to one of Paisley’s most celebrated musical sons – A Gerry Rafferty Songbook, featuring Roddy Hart, Emma Pollock and Rab Noakes.

Monday 14th sees Hue and Cry in the Spiegeltent – a venue and location fitting for a band for whom one of their biggest hits, ‘Looking for Linda’, was set on a train to Paisley.

Platinum-selling indie-rockers Glasvegasperform their only full-band Scottish date of the year the next night, before Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys brings his solo show to the Spiegeltent on Wednesday 16th.

London’s First Lady of Soul PP Arnold is next up on Thursday 17th with songs from her six-decade career working with stars including Rod Stewart and the Small Faces, Barry Gibb, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Oasis.

The Friday night sees multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Karine Polwart bring her Scottish Songbook – a collection of Scottish pop classic spanning more than 50 years.

And the festival ends on Saturday 19th with anarchic magic from comedy headliner Jerry Sadowitz, followed by what will be a lively late-night closing party all the way from Tennessee, USA, with the inventors of ‘rockgrass’ Hayseed Dixie.

There’s also two late-night comedy shows on Friday 11th and 18th, headlined by Mark Nelson and Gary Little and compered by Fred MacAulay and local lad Scott Gibson.

Renfrewshire Leisure are programming Spree shows at Paisley Arts Centre, with the ones announced so far being Lost Map’s Lost Weekend Sunday Social featuring the Pictish Trail, Fell, Molly Linen and Callum Easter (Sunday 13th), Paisley in Song featuring Michael Cassidy and Andy Monahan (Frightened Rabbit) on Thursday 17th, and ex-Arab Strap musician Malcolm Middleton plus support (Saturday 19th).

And the Spiegeltent will also host an all-day festival within-a-festival on Saturday 12th with LNP Promotions ever-popular ModStuffcelebration of all things Mod, for which the line-up will be confirmed soon.

Tickets for all shows go on sale at 10am on Friday 7 June via thespree.co.uk and www.ticketweb.uk

More will be added to the bill over the summer with details still to be announced for The Wee Spree – a programme of children’s entertainment over the October school holidays – and the Spree for All fringe festival, with a range of shows in other venue across Renfrewshire.

Duncan Frew, Tennent’s Lager’s Commercial and Marketing Director (UK), added: “Tennent’s are delighted to partner with the Spree Festival in 2019.

“The festival continues to go from strength to strength, developing a national profile through an impressive programme of local and international artists and activity. We look forward to working with organisers and local community to help build on this success.”

Louisa Mahon, Renfrewshire Council’s head of marketing, communications and events, added: “The Spree has grown in recent years to become a fixture in Scotland’s festival calendar – and we are delighted the expanded capacity this year has allowed us to attract some of our biggest names yet.

“Not only will that bring music fans from across the country to see what Paisley has to offer but the growth in the event will help bring a real festival feel to the town, and a boost the local economy.”

For more information on the festival, see www.thespree.co.uk and for more on what’s happening in Paisley visit www.paisley.is

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Real-life grandads and their grandsons from the Paisley area will take to the stage to become stars of a theatre show about the relationships between men and boys.

The show Old Boy is being performed at Paisley Arts Centre on Wednesday and Thursday, June 5 and 6 at 7.30pm.

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And three local granddads and their grandsons will be on stage performing in the shows presented by the Glasgow-based theatre company Glas(s) Performance.

The men and boys taking part are grandfather, Ray Brown, aged 65, from Quarrier’s Village, near Kilmacolm and his two-year-old grandson, Harvey Millar, from Paisley; Patrick Head, aged 66 and his nine-year-old grandson, Dalton, from Penilee along with 82-year-old Monty Colvan and his grandson, Owen Fyfe, aged 21, from Crookston.

Ray Brown looks after Harvey three days a week and he takes his grandson along to various activities like swimming, Bookbug sessions and the Gym Joey’s classes at the ON-X sports centre, in Linwood.

Rays said: “I’ve never been on stage before and neither has Harvey, since he’s only two. But we’re really looking forward to it and I’ve no doubt Harvey will enjoy himself, as he loves mixing with people.

“I’ll be doing all the talking on stage and Harvey will be enjoying himself playing with toys.”

Ray has been used to being in front of a large audience as before he retired he was a senior manager with a large insurance company and has spoken to audiences of hundreds at conferences all over the world. He even shared a stage with Nelson Mandela in 1997 during a conference held in Zimbabwe.

Ray added: “I spend a lot of time with Harvey and I thought it would be exciting for him to take part in the show. I’m quite looking forward to it myself!”

Jess Thorpe, Co-Artistic Director of the show said: “We’re excited to introduce audiences in Renfrewshire to the real-life relationships of three local sets of grandfathers and their grandsons and to share the stories of love, legacy and tenderness in their family relationships.

“Old Boy is a show about love, tenderness and care between men. This is a side of masculinity which we rarely get to see on stage and something that feels important to celebrate.”

Since the show is about men and boys, Renfrewshire Leisure is offering children into the performance for free when they are accompanied by a paying adult.

Log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com or call 0300 300 1210 to buy a ticket at only £5.