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Ambitious plans for a community-led theatre and cinema development in Paisley town centre have taken another step forward thanks to a council cash injection.

The Paisley 2021 Community Development Trust is working on innovative proposals for a multi-purpose performance venue as part of the wider push to use culture and heritage to transform Paisley’s future, including a bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

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And the trust has been awarded up to a maximum of £34,000 from a council fund for social enterprises to help them produce a detailed business case for the new venue.

A feasibility study into a new venue was one of the key strands of the heritage-led regeneration strategy for Paisley revealed by Renfrewshire Council last year.

The flagship project of the regeneration strategy is the plans to turn Paisley Museum into a national museum of textile and costume and an international destination for heritage tourism.

The Paisley 2021 Trust – a charitable organisation formed by local businessmen and including PACE Theatre Group – last year approached the council and offered to take the lead on the study into the new theatre/cinema.

The money for the project comes from a social enterprise grant fund set up last year through the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire programme to support business and create employment.

Councillors on the Economy and Jobs Board this week approved the award of an additional £100k to extend the grant scheme for another year until 2017.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are taking forward ambitious and far-reaching plans to use Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets to transform the town’s future.

“Paisley is due to lodge its bid for UK City of Culture in 2021 and crucial to that will be boosting the area’s cultural programme, which means we need to consider our venue capacity.

“That bid process is bigger than anything the council can do on its own – it will need the entire community pulling together, which is why we are delighted the Paisley 2021 Trust has volunteered to run with this element of it.

“The social enterprise grant fund has been a big success since it launched last year, with a number of worthy local causes having benefitted to date, and we are delighted to be able to extend that fund to run into 2017.”

Paisley 2021 trustee Gary Kerr added: “We are delighted with the level of support we are receiving from the council at this stage of the project.

“The feasibility study is an exciting development which we hope will demonstrate the viability of a new theatre and cinema in Paisley town centre.

“Our consultants will be speaking to the local community as well as touring groups, performers and agents.

“We hope by the end to have established a demand for it, what shape it should take, and which of the five sites we have earmarked it should be on.”

Other third-sector projects to benefit from the social enterprise small grants scheme since it was set up last year include Crisis Counselling, Erskine Music and Media Studio, Scottish Huntington’s Association and KipCo Kilbarchan Improvement Projects.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Remembering the good old days of Glasgow variety theatre.

Would a stroll down memory lane take you to the steps of the Paisley Theatre, scene of amateur operatics, theatre repertory, and performances by the Logan family, Andy Stewart and other luminaries?

If it would, members of the Scottish Theatre Archive “On Stage” project would like you to join them in a journey of reminiscence.


On Thursday, October 16, as part of The Spree festival, Paisley Central Library, in partnership with the Scottish Theatre Archive, will host a drop-in day – “Your Theatre History” – that will fulfil two functions.

Professor Adrienne Scullion, who holds the James Arnott Chair in Drama at the University of Glasgow, said: “The Scottish Theatre Archive is an essential collection for anyone interested in the story of theatre and drama in Scotland but it’s also a fantastic resource for anyone interested in social and cultural history more widely.   This event will allow us to showcase the historical riches held in both the Scottish Theatre Archive and Paisley Library’s Heritage Services  and just might also unlock a few new memories about our theatrical heritage too.”

The morning session, “Exploring Your Theatre History”, is an opportunity for people who want to carry out their own research into friends or relatives who worked or performed in the theatre. It will allow them to tap into the resources and expertise of the Heritage Services and the Scottish Theatre Archive, which is based in the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections department and has a mission to preserve and promote interest in Scotland’s theatrical heritage. Anyone interested in this part of the day is advised to phone or email the Scottish Theatre Archive with the details of their inquiry in advance.

The afternoon session is entitled “Remembering  the Paisley Theatre” and is a celebration of memories of  that theatre (also known as the Victory Theatre) on Smithhills Street, which opened in 1890 and closed in 1959.

Over two hours, there will be a talk, short film screening and informal group discussion which will allow participants to share memories of the Paisley Theatre with members of the Scottish Theatre Archive and Paisley Library Heritage Services. They would particularly like to hear from anyone who remembers appearing at the theatre in amateur productions, or seeing Scottish variety shows there in the 1940s and 1950s. Both events are being held at Paisley Central Library.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]