Ambitious plans to grow Renfrewshire’s visitor economy have been boosted – as the Scottish Government confirmed £2million support for the ongoing transformation of Paisley Museum into a world-class destination.
Today saw the launch of Renfrewshire’s Economic Strategy 2020-2030 which lays out plans to grow the area’s economy over the next decade and includes tourism as one of its key sectors.
Paisley Museum will reopen in 2022 as a leading European museum telling the town’s internationally-significant story, expected to draw audiences from Scotland, the UK and abroad and almost quadruple visitor numbers to 125,000 a year.
The Scottish Government’s support for the museum was revealed during the launch of the strategy by Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop at an event also attended by Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay.
It comes as Renfrewshire-based Scottish Leather Group – already the UK’s largest leather manufacturer – announced they are to open a new Paisley hub by autumn 2020, creating 100 new skilled manufacturing jobs in the town.
Renfrewshire’s Economic Strategy 2020-2030 has been developed by the region’s Economic Leadership Panel, which draws together leaders from across the private and public sector, enterprise agencies and education and skills experts.
It sets out how the area will benefit from a £1.4billion investment in economic infrastructure, innovation and skills, and details a series of actions to add more than 9,000 jobs to the economy and reduce economic inactivity by 15% by bringing 3,000 local people into the workforce.
There is a major focus on growing the tourism and visitor sectors through projects like the museum and by expanding Renfrewshire’s creative industries. The area already attracts around 2.25million day visitors each year – worth a combined £62.5million to the local economy.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I am pleased to announce that the Scottish Government is contributing £2 million to the ambitious Paisley Museum project, which will engage the local community and showcase the design heritage of this town to the wider world, while contributing to the overall regeneration of Paisley.”
The £42m Paisley Museum Reimagined project is being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council and includes Round One support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
The project is expected to create a £79million boost for the local economy over 30 years, with 138 jobs supported during construction, and more than 48 jobs per year through revenue and visitor spending.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Paisley Museum Reimagined will enable us to share our story with the world and create a world-class destination that will attract more visitors to Renfrewshire.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government is fully behind the project and welcome their support as we invest in our unique culture and heritage to transform our future.
“Growing our tourism and visitor numbers is a key focus of our work to create a strong, thriving local economy, bringing more people into work, with more secure jobs and better wages.
“We have set out our ambitions in a new economic strategy developed through close collaboration between the private and public sector and this partnership approach will be central to achieving Renfrewshire’s inclusive economic growth.”
The museum is being redesigned by international architects AL_A – led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete, and the first images showing what it will look like were revealed last month.
The transformation includes a new wing to the existing building and attractive outdoor garden – opening up access to the Coats Observatory and reconnecting it and the museum to the town’s High Street – as well as internal renovations to improve accessibility and allow the museum to double the number of objects on show.
The museum is part of Renfrewshire Council’s £100million investment in venues and outdoor spaces aimed at using Paisley’s unique and internationally-significant cultural and heritage story to transform the area’s future.
That includes turning Paisley Town Hall into a landmark entertainment venue to preserve its place at the heart of life in the town, and finding new cultural uses for former retail units – including a new learning and cultural hub offering library services at the heart of the town’s High Street.