Paisley is set for a ‘festival of family fun’ when The Wee Spree comes to town this October.

The popular programme of activities for kids will take place from 12-21 October with thousands set to be entertained during the school holiday period.

The Wee Spree festival, Paisley – Musician
Colin Hyson rehearses for The Wee Spree festival, with school kids Gordon McCallum, 8 (blonde hair, blue t-shirt) Callum Gemmell, 9 (glasses and check shirt), Holly Beggs, 9 (pink tshirt), Imogen Hunter, 9 (rainbow tshirt)

The festival coincides with The Spree festival of music and comedy set to take over the town centre and will be bigger and better than ever, marking Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.

The internationally celebrated Scottish Chamber Orchestra will bring their free Fun Day to the festival (18 October) and promise some ‘bewitching musical fun’ inspired by Julia Donaldson’s much-loved children’s story, Room on the Broom. Orchestra members will perform for a family audience before kids get the chance to try music and craft workshops and join a special multi-coloured orchestra themselves.

Chamber musician Colin Hyson visited Paisley this week to speak to P5 pupils Gordon McCallum, Callum Gemmell, Holly Beggs and Imogen Hunter from Williamsburgh Primary School.

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, SCO Connect Director, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Wee Spree in Paisley, bringing Julia Donaldson’s much-loved book Room on the Broom to life through musical storytelling.

“Scottish Chamber Orchestra violinist Aisling O’Dea will lead an interactive musical workshop before performing Room on the Broom with three other SCO musicians. Afterwards, children can take part in themed craft workshops and try out our colourful musical instruments. This Family Day is the SCO’s first event in Paisley since 2015 and our first visit to the Wee Spree.”

National Theatre of Scotland will bring the fascinating DO’S AND DON’TS to Paisley (12-14 & 16-21 October) as part of Futureproof – a radical new festival of ten productions across the country marking Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. Developed in partnership with award-winning documentary theatre makers Rimini Protokoll (Germany) and local young people, this event will see the audience led on an exciting and unusual tour around Paisley on a mobile auditorium, with an accompanying soundscape provided by local choirs.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “DO’S & DON’TS has been co-created by the young people of Paisley and German theatre-makers Rimini Protokoll and it is great that it is a part of the Paisley Spree Festival.

“It is a very exciting project which is also part of our bigger Scotland wide Futureproof festival celebrating Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. We are delighted to be part of the Paisley Spree and the Year of Young People 2018 and working alongside our partners Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure.”

Paisley’s strong tradition of commitment to Gaelic music and culture will be celebrated during the festival when the popular local Fèis Phàislig bring their ‘ceilidh trail’ and music workshops (13 October), while Paisley Arts Centre hosts a free Gaelic singing and music workshop with Gillebrìde MacMillan (18 October) ahead of his ‘Paisley Connection’ evening performance celebrating the Paisley Bard, Donald MacIntyre.

Family celebrations of music are at the heart of the programme’s opening weekend with the Sprog Rock (13 October) andMini Manoeuvres (13 October) shows letting families have ‘a gig experience’ together.

Cosmopot (13-21 October) is a new multi-sensory show for pre-schoolers from Paisley Arts Centre’s Artist-in-Residence, Claire McGarry, and the free and popular Bookbug (15 & 16 October) from the Renfrewshire Libraries team lets toddlers enjoy songs, rhymes, music and stories.

Youngsters can try out a variety of Circus Skills (16 October) from hula hooping and juggling to tightwire with the team from Glasgow’s Aerial Edge and families can get active together with two sessions of Family Yoga (19 October) led by Renfrewshire Leisure.

The free Comedy Club 4 Kids (19 October) puts some of the best stand-ups and sketch artists on the circuit in front of an audience of kids. Entertainment of another kind comes from the Computer Xplorers (20 October) who will teach kids how to create their own games using coding skills and augmented reality.

The Wee Spree and The Spree festivals are organised by Renfrewshire Council.

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The Wee Spree is always a huge hit with families and this year’s October week looks amazing. We have had great fun designing the programme with all of our venues and artists and we are delighted to see places booking up fast. We have music, comedy, storytelling, acrobatics and song, all taking place in the heart of the town centre – 10 minutes from Glasgow City Centre by train. So, for anyone looking for ways to fill the October holidays – we can guarantee a great day out at this year’s Spree festival.”

The Spree festival is now in its seventh year. Acts appearing this year include Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, London African Gospel Choir, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, The Orb, Gang of Four, Wolfgang Flür (ex Kraftwerk), Big Minds, The Wandering Hearts, Tracyanne & Danny, The Pastels, Vieux Farka Touré, The Leisure Society, Duke Special, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, Gillebrìde MacMillan, Des Clarke, Janey Godley and Stuart Mitchell.

A Spree for All fringe programme will celebrate live music from local acts in Paisley and across the wider Renfrewshire area.

Details of full programmes and ticket information for The Spree, The Wee Spree and the Spree for All are available online at or from the festival box office at 9b Gilmour Street, Paisley PA1 1DG.

Plans to bring new life to Paisley town centre by transforming key outdoor areas have been revealed, as the ongoing £100m investment in the town’s venues and infrastructure moves forward.

Renfrewshire Council is leading the investment as part of wider plans to transform the area’s future using its internationally-significant cultural and heritage story.

Work to turn key venues including Paisley Museum and Town Hall into 21st-century facilities hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year is well under way – and will be complemented by a £10m investment to improve the outdoor streetscape and transport links.

The plans – aimed at driving new footfall and boosting the evening economy by growing the area’s already-successful events programme and creating more attractive spaces to keep visitors, students and workers in the town – include:

– unlocking the enormous potential of the area around Abbey Close by creating a larger and more flexible events and gathering space around the Abbey, town hall and river, including improvements to the Abbey Green;

– a new and improved town gateway in County Square – creating a decluttered town square to welcome visitors and expand events capacity, and create a more attractive space for pavement cafes and people to dwell;

Details have also been revealed for major improvements to the town’s transport infrastructure, with upgrades to key road junctions at Mill St/Glasgow Rd, Mill St/Lonend, Canal St/Causeyside St and Renfrew Rd/Mill St/Incle St.

The aim is to improve traffic flow and road safety, while linking the town centre to its surroundings by making it easier to walk or cycle into the heart of the town and creating a better sense of arrival for people visiting Paisley’s attractions.

The projects will go to public consultation next year, followed by a detailed design phase. There will also be a feasibility study to look at further-reaching longer-term changes to the town’s road system.

The council last year set aside £10m for the above public realm projects but wants to top that up by applying to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Councillors on the leadership board will be asked to approve that application when they meet next Wednesday (19 Sept), where they will also be updated on other projects in the £100m investment.

That includes the £42m transformation of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage and collections, and the £22m plans to preserve Paisley Town Hall’s place at the heart of life in the town by becoming a landmark performance venue.

The museum is planned to close later this month and reopen in 2022, and the town hall will close at the end of the year and reopen in 2021.

Other projects coming in the next few years include a new learning and cultural hub offering library services on the heart of the High St, and a refurbishment of Paisley Arts Centre.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our £100m investment in Paisley town centre is the backbone of everything which will happen in the next stage of our regeneration journey, the benefits of which will be felt around the whole Renfrewshire area.

“Over the next few years, we will transform our unique and much-loved venues into 21st-century facilities to host the expansion of events, visitors and activity the area will be at the centre of – we are also this week revealing plans to grow the capacity of Renfrewshire’s independent creative sector through a new fund.

“We have already seen investment in culture deliver results – with visitor numbers and attendees at our already-successful major events programme on the up, and the UK City of Culture bid boosting the town’s profile, reputation and self-confidence.

“And put simply – it’s the way we have to go. Changes in the way people shop mean town centres everywhere have to reinvent themselves. We cannot turn the clock back but we can create a vibrant destination around our unique culture, heritage and events, and that is what we are doing.

“The public realm projects we are revealing details of today are key to that – they will create key outdoor spaces allowing our already-successful major events to be even bigger and better.

“At the same time, Paisley already has large populations of students and workers, and a growing number of visitors – this investment will support traders by creating more attractive spaces which encourage them to spend more time and money here.

“And the improvements to the transport infrastructure will make the town easier to get around and through, while we look at a longer-term masterplan to improve the road system further.”

The next steps of a £1.87million investment in Renfrewshire’s green spaces and villages are set to be considered as part of a continued drive to empower local community groups and residents.

Barshaw Gala 22

Councillors will consider a report at the upcoming Leadership Board which outlines the key objectives and the proposed application process of the Green Spaces, Parks and Play Areas and Villages Investment Fund, after the Council made the commitment in the 2018/19 budget.

The fund is set to empower local people to make physical and environmental improvements across Renfrewshire as they are supported to work up ideas and projects and advised on how to access the funding required to bring them to life.

Communities will also be supported to carry out condition and development surveys of green spaces, including parks and play areas, as their ideas are sought on how to develop and improve their local area.

£370,000 of the investment has been allocated to develop a Villages Investment Fund which will encourage applications from smaller communities and will deliver projects that strengthen the identity, heritage, uniqueness and integrity of village life.

A further £110,000 has been allocated to support the provision of a Multi-Use Games Area or alternative facility in the Bargarran area of Erskine.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, said: “We’re committed to providing our communities with the opportunity to develop, improve and take forward projects which will benefit their local area.

“This new fund is a significant investment in our communities and we want residents to tell us what they need to make their area a better place to live.

“We’ll provide the support, expertise and impetus to bring their visions to reality if they can demonstrate that their idea will make a real and sustainable difference to the lives of those around them.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the exciting ideas for improvements coming forward from local communities once the fund is officially launched.”

As part of the recent major improvements to Renfrewshire’s parks, which saw £1million invested in both Robertson Park in Renfrew and Barshaw Park in Paisley, £250,000 was allocated to five neighbourhood parks in the area – Thomas Shanks Park, Johnstone; Barwood Park, Erskine; Houston Road Public Park, Bridge of Weir; Howwood Public Park; and Kilbarchan Public Park.

Discussions are ongoing with communities over the best use of these funds and the report to Councillors notes that communities will be supported to access this funding and develop their ideas on how it should be used.

Councillors will consider the proposals at the Leadership Board meeting on 19 September 2018.

Designed to help young people aged 16-25 get confident and motivated. A team of individuals, both employed and unemployed spend 12 weeks sharing fun, taking part in team-building activities, helping the community, the environment and people in need.

It’s fun, challenging and rewarding. What are you waiting for? APPLY NOW here ( or come along to our info day on 6 September at our Ferguslie Learning Centre

Barrowland Ballet is pleased to announce the forthcoming tour of Tiger, Tiger Tale and Playful Tiger in September and October this year.

Tiger: Barrowland Ballet

The productions of Tiger and Playful Tiger will be taking place at Johnstone Town Hall on 30th September (Tiger), 7pm and 1st October- Playful Tiger, at 11am. Tickets can be booked by phone on 0300 300 1210 or online (Tiger only) at

Thrilling and dynamic dance, music and theatre combine to create a moving, intimate performance of a dysfunctional family whose worlds are turned upside down when a tiger invades. A family suffocated by the relentlessness of their everyday routine have forgotten what it is that they love about each another.  It’s chaotic, it’s dangerous but brilliantly funny as the tiger reunites them as a loving family once again.

Up close to the action the audience embark on a sensory adventure as it is transformed from a sterile space into a shifting world of colour, scent and explosive movement. With the impressive set unleashing the chaos of the tiger in thrilling and unexpected ways.


Tiger (adults and young people 14+) When a tiger invades, a troubled family’s world is launched into chaos. This insightful story of family relationships is emotionally charged but brilliantly comic. The thrilling dancing, evocative live music and impressive set unleashes the tiger in exciting and unexpected ways.  


The new tiger to join the fold, Playful Tiger, is an adaptation of Tiger Tale, created specifically for children and young people who are profoundly autistic and mainly non-verbal.


Playful Tiger (7+) tells the story of the tiger’s visit to the rigid family home through the eyes of the child, with a focus on sensory engagement.  Playfulness within the work creates opportunities for the audience to interact and improvise with the performers, making each performance unique. The capacity for the show is 6 to 8 young people with their families and carers.


In collaboration with Ellie Griffiths and with funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation,

Barrowland Ballet explored how improvisation and sensory approaches can provide an artistic collaboration with this audience. They developed methods of devising work informed by the children’s own impulses and responses as well as the artists’ observations.


This funding is also supporting the team to research and develop the most effective approaches to training and supporting venues to welcome and engage children and young people who are profoundly autistic and mainly non-verbal and their families.


Underpinned by an extensive research and audience development programme, including sensory auditing carried out at our venues by Ellie Griffiths and a young person on the autistic spectrum, the funding will also contribute to the creation of Venue and Audience Support packs and Visual Story resources to support venues and their audiences in preparation for the performances.


Natasha Gilmore says “I’m excited at the prospect of making work for this specific audience, dance as an art form seems a perfect fit. We started to research Playful Tiger at Isobel Mair school, it was brilliantly chaotic with moments of beautiful improvised duets occurring between the performers and the pupils, the dance artists expertly using their skills to engage and respond to the children’s lead. This production is aimed at children who do not currently have access to theatre because even a relaxed performance might not cater to their complex needs. I’m thrilled that these children and their families will have access to contemporary theatre and that they will have a visibility in our arts centres across Scotland.”


Ellie Griffiths says “Working with Barrowland Ballet and using dance to communicate with a mainly non-verbal audience has so far been a rich creative exploration. For me it has been really exciting to see sensory performance work for diverse audiences pushed to new levels of artistic quality. I have enjoyed the curiosity and rigour of approach that the whole team on this project has displayed. I personally can’t wait for young people with profound autism and their families to experience what I have no doubt will be a wild and beautiful theatrical adventure!”

Buddies will be able to re-live what was going on at Paisley’s Museum and Central Library in the 1960s.

Previously unseen film footage of people visiting the two well-known landmarks is being shown at a special free event being held in the Museum between 7pm and 9pm, on Friday, September 7.

Renowned local filmmaker, Falconer Houston used his movie camera to capture life in the Museum and Central Library in that bygone era. And now audiences are able to view his films during the family-friendly Museum Memories showing.

As well as the movies being shown, there will also be performances by local dance companies, Dirty Feet and Right2Dance, as well as arts and crafts activities for youngsters.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “This is a rare opportunity to view these fascinating films. And it’s especially relevant as the Museum closes later in September for a multi-million pound refurbishment.

“As well as enjoying a trip down memory lane for the adults, there is also lots of fun for youngsters on the night.”

The new state of the art shared school campus of Bargarran and St John Bosco Primary Schools in Erskine has been officially opened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills unveiled a commemorative plaque at the campus, which also hosts the St John Bosco Early Learning and Childcare Class and a community learning space.

Pupils entertained invited guests, who also included MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands and MSP for Renfrewshire North and West and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay.

The children staged three short performances, including a joint song from some of the new primary one pupils who were at nursery together last year.

The two-storey building was designed by Renfrewshire Council, with Heron Bros constructing the double storey school as part of the local authority’s £16 million investment in the facility.

The new building has mirrored wings for the two schools over two levels, with flexible spaces which support independent learning.

On the ground floor, all classrooms lead out onto a playground area or courtyard for outside learning, while upstairs classes have access to a balcony area.  Toilets and cloakroom facilities link to the outside and the shared dining hall doubles up as an ‘after school’ area.

The playground area was designed in consultation with the pupils and will eventually include a performance space with canopy, trim trail, picnic benches, an eco-growing area, climbing wall, wobble board, spiral climbing net, an all-weather sport pitch and timber amphitheatre.

The new facility also features a sustainable ‘green roof’ where seeds from native species have been planted. Once the plants have fully grown, a permanent video link to classrooms will be installed which will allow pupils to view wildlife in real time.

St John Bosco is a denominational school and the original school was built in 1972, while Bargarran is a non-denominational school which opened in 1971.

Karen MacKechnie, Head Teacher, St John Bosco Primary School, said: “The opportunity for staff and pupils to be part of the design process with the project management team has resulted in an outstanding building for the children in our local community. It’s a building that is truly fit for 21st century learning.

“At the heart of our school is the Oratory which provides a calm, spiritual area for reflection, prayer and worship.

“The information and communications technology facilities are world-class and our children and staff are buzzing with excitement in their new indoor and outdoor learning environments.”

Staff, pupils and parents first entered the neAnchorw school building in April 2018 and Bargarran Head Teacher, Alistair Lyle said: “The new building provides a wonderful environment for both children to learn in and teachers to teach in.

“The informal and formal teaching areas and access to the outdoors in all classrooms means the children can experience a wide range of approaches to learning. Children across the school regularly talk about their excitement about the school’s design and their enthusiasm for learning in the new building.

“The playground and the wide range of play equipment is also another fantastic opportunity to promote the children’s health and wellbeing.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “It was a pleasure to be asked by Renfrewshire Council to officially open the new state of the art facilities at Bargarran and St John Bosco schools campus.

“We want all of our young people to have access to innovative and inspirational settings like this which parents, staff and learners can be proud of. The young people I have met today are making full use of this wonderful building and I wish them all the best for their future.”

Education and Children’s Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson said: “We are committed to providing the best learning environments possible for our children and young people and this new shared campus is a wonderful example of that.
“I am sure it will play host to many years of exciting and engaging learning.”

Renfrewshire’s award-winning diversionary programme Street Stuff delivered youth activities to 31,218 young people during 2017/18.

Young people can take part in football and dance, as well as gaming and DJ workshops provided on a specially designed Youth Bus.

Working with the Renfrewshire Community Safety Partnership, the programme identifies hot spot areas of anti-social behaviour and aims to divert young people into more meaningful activities.

The programme also includes the provision of healthy meals to young people, with 5081 provided in 2017/18 – taking the total number of healthy meals provided since the extended programme began in October 2015 to more than 20,000.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “We’re extremely proud of our Street Stuff programme and the success it has achieved since it was introduced in 2009.

“There has been a sustained reduction in anti-social behaviour in Renfrewshire and young people are actively seeking out the activities within their community.

“The programme is not only providing a place to play though, with almost 80% of the sessional workers being former participants of the programme and this volunteering experience is boosting their future employment prospects.

“Add to that, the focus on healthy eating and the provision of a healthy meal at activities and it is clear to see why the programme has been, and continues to be, so successful.”

An independent evaluation into the programme undertaken by the University of West of Scotland in June 2017 delivered an extremely positive outlook, outlining that Street Stuff provides positive activities, improves social inclusion and gives young people access to facilities and experiences within local communities they otherwise wouldn’t receive.

Stephen Gallacher, Street Stuff Manager, said: “The volunteers and staff take immense pride in the success of the programme and the difference being made to the lives of young people in Renfrewshire.

“We are actively working to engage with young people, ensure they have positive activities to take part in and aim to guide them into positive destinations which they may otherwise not be able to achieve.

“I’m delighted to see the number of attendees who go from taking part in the activities to helping to deliver them to the next generation of young people and we’ll continue to give young people the skills and experience they need for the future.”

The success of the programme was recognised with three high-profile awards in 2017, with success coming at the COSLA Excellence Awards, ROCCO Business Awards and Scottish Public Sector Awards.

For more information on the project and for the current timetable of activities, visit

A community project to turn Johnstone Police Station into a local health hub has taken a significant step forward.

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

Active Communities has received £10,000 from Renfrewshire Council’s Community Empowerment Fund towards its plans to take over ownership of the former police station.

It is one of three projects to receive support from the first round of applications for the newly established fund open to all community groups who want to take over ownership and running of a building or piece or land in their local area.

Starting out 15 years ago as a Paisley walking and jogging group, Active Communities now delivers physical activity and community sport, health and wellbeing classes to more than 700 people each week right across Renfrewshire, with a local school programme and a youth volunteering initiative.

Their innovative idea to convert the station building into a community led health and wellbeing centre has received funds for a feasibility study and to further develop the business case.

Plans for the facility also include providing space for women’s initiative Kairos, who provide support to vulnerable women facing social barriers and a men’s shed for men to make social connections and build friendships.

The station kitchen could be adapted to give local people training in cookery and healthy eating and there are also plans to provide meeting rooms for other community groups.

“The more we have grown and the greater the demand, we were keen to have a central hub so we can deliver lots more activities,” said Susan McDonald, Active Communities Manager.

“Downstairs would be space for our classes and upstairs would be office space for ourselves and for other community organisations who are looking to grow. There’s been great support from the Johnstone community and it is really exciting that we’re one step closer.

“Our classes and activities are about having fun and helping to tackle loneliness and isolation. We aim to encourage people who wouldn’t see themselves as sporty. We will have space for a drop in where people can join us for a cuppa, a chat and find out what is available.”

The group are also in discussions with Police Scotland over the transfer of the station.

Inspector Cassie Glass, Johnstone, Renfrew and the Villages Community Policing Team, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the local community in terms of health and wellbeing and very appropriate use of our former Police Station. We wish them every success.”

Councillors on Renfrewshire’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board also approved £10,000 for Paisley Community Trust as they develop the business case to turn the old Arnott’s site into a cinema, arts venue and theatre.

And West End Growing Grounds Association received £20,000 to help them relocate to Underwood Road.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We have so many innovative and creative people in our communities and these projects, from health hubs to local growing grounds, exemplify this.

“Everyone in Renfrewshire wants their own town or village to thrive and we believe that local communities are key to their success. That’s why this fund has been created, to empower all community groups – whether firmly established or just starting out – to come forward with their ideas and we will do all we can to help them along the way. It’s so important to me that we can reach as diverse a range of community members as possible.

“We are also establishing new funds for our villages and to develop Renfrewshire’s green spaces and improving local decision making as part of our commitment to give communities greater say and control than ever before.”

The next deadline for Community Empowerment Fund applications is Friday 14 September. To find out more, visit, call 0141 618 7408 or email

The good old days are being brought back to life at a Vintage Family Fun Day.

The free fun event – which includes film footage from more than 60 years ago – is being staged by Renfrewshire Leisure, at Johnstone Town Hall, from 11.30am, on Saturday, August 25.

The films are from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive and the Paisley Museum Camcorder Club, whose members have recently discovered previously lost films showing the Johnstone area from the 1950s and 1960s.

As well as the films, there will also be vintage arts and crafts, playground games from a bygone era, balloon modelling, face painting, a treasure hunt and badge-making arts and crafts.

The former film projectionist from the former Alex Cinema, in Paisley, Douglas Boyle is also coming along with his popular children’s cartoon show.

The Paisley Museum’s Camcorder Club’s films includes colour footage of Johnstone Gala parades, a Royal visit by The Queen to Kilbarchan, footage of old Johnstone Town Hall as well as rare scenes of Johnstone Burgh FC winning the Scottish Junior Cup. These were filmed by local resident Robert McCrimmon.

There is also unique footage of the very last steam train from Johnstone and film of Kilbarchan’s Lilias Day in 1968, when it was revived after being cancelled in the 1930s. This was filmed by William Major, the former projectionist at Johnstone’s Globe Cinema.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Nostalgia certainly isn’t a thing of the past and there’s lots of interest in our heritage from all ages.

“Particularly, these not-to-be-missed films make up a fantastic record of Johnstone and surrounding area in the mid-20th century. They are a great way of learning about and reliving the past.”