The team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 have thanked the people of the town for their ‘incredible contribution’ after Paisley was named as the sole Scottish place on the shortlist for the next stage of the competition.
The UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have confirmed the 11 places bidding for the title has been whittled down to just five – Paisley, Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.
Initial bids were lodged in April – the five selected are due to submit more detailed second-stage bids by the end of September, with the winner announced at the end of the year.
Paisley is bidding for the title as part of a wider push to use the town’s unique heritage and cultural story as the home of the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern to transform its future.
It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £172m economic boost and create the equivalent of 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period.
Current UK City of Culture hosts Hull has seen £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013, with the city attracting 1.4m visitors in just the first three months of its year in the spotlight.
And the shortlist news has been hailed by the team behind Paisley’s bid as a massive thumbs-up for the town and its ambitions.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson – chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board – said: “For the judges to have shortlisted us is a major endorsement of our ambitions for Paisley and Renfrewshire – and we are in it to win it.
“I know local people will be absolutely thrilled at this news – we want to thank every one of them as they are the ones whose incredible contribution made it happen.
“They turned the bid into a mass movement, with more than 30,000 people joining the conversation – a number equivalent to almost half the town’s population.
“Winning the UK City of Culture 2021 title would be a major boost to our wider plans.
“Aside from hosting some of the world’s best performers and bringing more than a million people to Paisley in 2021, it would over the long term create thousands of new jobs, and allow us to attract massive investment and build a new town centre economy with tourism and creativity at its heart.
“We wish the best of luck to the other places which join us on the shortlist, and send our best wishes to those which didn’t make it through.”
Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron added: “This is a wonderful piece of news. A huge number of people worked so hard to get us to this stage and we want to thank every one of them…from Paisley Buddies to our friends across Scotland, the UK and further afield.
“There’s never been a Scottish winner and we would be thrilled to be the first – we are now Scotland’s bid and would love to see the whole country get behind us.
“The work to date has already been really positive for Paisley – it taken awareness of our internationally-significant story to a new level and changed perceptions of the town.
“It has also brought a new sense of self-confidence to residents and shown them how the power of culture can be harnessed to change people’s lives for the better.
“Our £1m Culture, Heritage and Events Fund has boosted our local cultural scene and linked local groups with some of Scotland’s best creative talent – building a foundation for our 2021 year.
“The initial bid was the product of a wide range of local groups – community and cultural organisations, schools and young people, businesses and the council – all working together on a shared vision to change the area’s future.
“Paisley will build on that over the next few months as we look to further convince the judges that the town wants the title, needs the title, and will deliver a year of world-class culture in 2021.”
Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has enjoyed the following highlights over the past 20 months:
– the creation of a £1m Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund aimed at boosting the local creative scene and creating partnerships with national artists. Funded projects include a series of gable-end artwork murals around the town, and a stop-motion Lego animation now seen by millions of people around the world;
– more than 30,000 people joining the conversation which helped shape the bid, including a specially-commissioned children’s story inviting every primary school child in Renfrewshire to submit ideas;
– backing from cultural figures from the town including singer Paolo Nutini, actor Gerard Butler, artist John Byrne and designer Pam Hogg;
– major events including the British Pipe Band Championships, Scotland’s largest beer festival, and the Scottish Album of the Year Award, with The Spree arts festival taking place later this year.
Work is under way in the town on new cultural infrastructure – including a proposed £42m revamp of Paisley museum and a new museum store and library on the town’s high street – as well as work to reconnect the Pattern back to the town which gave it its name via partnerships with international design houses.
For more information on Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, see www.paisley2021.co.uk