The people of Paisley now have just hours to wait to find out if their town will be crowned the next UK City of Culture – as a deluge of support for Paisley pours in.
The winner of the 2021 title will be announced live on BBC’s The One Show on Thursday evening from current host Hull.
Paisley is the only Scottish place – and first-ever town – to make the shortlist for the 2021 title, awarded every four years by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, along with Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.
And the town has seen an outpouring of best wishes – with a DCMS-endorsed social media focus on Paisley generating a total reach of almost 300,000 people from the Paisley 2021 accounts in just 48 hours on Monday and Tuesday.
There was also backing from cultural, political and media heavyweights including broadcaster and former director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor, who said: “I think it is a credible candidate for the award, and I hope it wins.”
There was also support from former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell – who has multiple connections to the town – and said: “Creativity and spirit remain intact in Paisley and the UK City of Culture bid has captured this.”
The town’s bid is part of a wider plan to transform its future using its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story as the one-time home of the world’s thread industry and the globally-recognised design icon, the Paisley Pattern.
And Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron has sent a final message to supporters ahead of the decision.
She said: “We’ve had some fantastic support in the past few days – as we have throughout the bid – and we thank everyone who has joined Team Paisley for this massive moment in our history.
“The two years since Paisley launched its UK City of Culture 2021 bid have been a wonderful journey and it’s been an honour to have been part of it.
“The bid has already changed Paisley for the better – taking our profile to new levels, raising awareness of our unique and overlooked stories, transforming the town’s reputation, and giving a sense of self-confidence back to a town which has suffered many blows in recent years.
“And it’s been a grassroots mass movement. People throughout Paisley and beyond have united behind a shared vision for the town and defined what culture means to them.
“Put simply, there is nothing with greater scope to transform Paisley’s future than winning this title, and the economic and social legacy it will leave.
“It will harness the power of culture to improve health, well-being and life chances, and will change lives in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities.
“Having been in Hull this week for the final presentation to DCMS we’ve seen at first-hand the massive investment which has flowed in ahead of their year in the spotlight and the enthusiasm local people have for being UK City of Culture hosts.
“While Paisley can and will use its unique selling points to drive new footfall and make the town a key destination for visitors, events and creative industry no matter what happens, the boost from hosting the 2021 title will turbocharge our journey.
“With an international airport on our doorstep and major investment in our town centre and historic venues confirmed, we will be ready to host a party in 2021 to which everyone is invited – and a warm Buddie welcome is guaranteed.
“We send our best wishes to our friends in our fellow bidding places and we thank DCMS for giving us this platform to show why we matter to Scotland, the UK and the world.”
It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £176m economic boost and create and sustain more than 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period.
Since Paisley’s bid launched in 2015, more than 34,000 people – almost equivalent to half the town’s population – have engaged in conversations around it.
The bid has also been backed by more than 200 businesses, including big names such as Glasgow International Airport, global drinks giant Diageo and the world’s largest industrial thread manufacturer Coats PLC.
Renfrewshire Council has also confirmed a £46m investment in venues and town centre infrastructure to get the town ready to host, while the Scottish Government has confirmed financial support if Paisley wins the title.