Backing for Paisley to be UK City of Culture 2021 has poured in just hours after the town launched its bid in the historic surroundings of Paisley Abbey.
Performances from PACE Youth Theatre Company – who delivered a production specially commissioned for the bid launch – as well as the Grant McFarlane Band and the Rock Us Community Choir, showed how culture is thriving in the town
Broadcaster Shereen Nanjiani, who went to school in Paisley, introduced a group of bid ambassadors which included Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council and Chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board; David Wallace, Executive Director of PACE Youth Theatre Company; Bob Davidson, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce; Sharon McAulay and Emma Richardson of the local STAR Project; and newly-appointed Bid Director Jean Cameron.
The identity for the Paisley 2021 bid was unveiled by a group of local school pupils who will be aged 21 in 2021.
Councillor Mark Macmillan said: “There is no single voice for Paisley, we are a community of voices, and that message was delivered loud and clear.
“We are not reinventing Paisley; the bid is utterly authentic. It’s about our historic buildings like the breathtaking Abbey, the famous and the historic cultural figures produced by the town and also the spirit forged on the hard work and enterprise of the women of the mills. Our Paisley 2021 brand encapsulates this, inspired by perhaps the most famous thing we gave the world – the Paisley Pattern.”
“Our ambitions are becoming a reality as we get set to put in motion a £56.7m planned investment aimed at placing Paisley Museum on the world stage. Now is the time to reach out to our communities across Paisley and Renfrewshire and build this bid.”
He added: “Paisley’s famous weaver poet Robert Tannahill said: ‘When hope persuades, and Fame inspires us, and pride with warm ambitions fires us. Let reason instant seize the bridle’.
“So we are counting on everyone here today to seize that bridle, be Paisley’s ambassadors and to play their part in unlocking Paisley’s potential.”
Backing for the campaign has been flooding in on social media with Twitter users from as far afield as Texas and Thailand following @Paisley2021 and sharing their support with #Paisley2021. A new website outlining the bid went live this morning at www.paisley2021.co.uk.
Shereen Nanjiani said: “I am a proud Buddie! I am wearing the Paisley Pattern today, and am very proud of the town and its people.”
Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “I grew up in Ferguslie Park, on Tannahill Road, named after Paisley’s famous poet and my belief in the transformational power of culture was nurtured in this town. Now we need to take the message out to the people of Paisley and of Renfrewshire, and our partners further afield, and ultimately, it will be its people who will make it happen for Paisley.”
Sharon McAulay of the STAR Project, on the bid ambassadors speaking at the event, said: “Paisley is an inspirational, culturally- rich town full of proud people who carry a strong sense of identity and community spirit through good times and tough. A successful bid for City of Culture 2021 will inspire and energise all of our communities.”
Bob Davidson, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help Paisley become the great place it deserves to be – great for all businesses, their employees and their customers. Having been part of Paisley for over 50 years, the chamber fully supports the Paisley 2021 bid and encourages businesses and organisations of all sizes and sectors to do the same.”
David Wallace of PACE Youth Theatre Company said: “Bidding for UK City of Culture 2021 is an opportunity to celebrate and to develop the already thriving cultural sector here in Paisley and Renfrewshire whilst creating new opportunities for potential national and international cultural partnerships.”
Further endorsements for the campaign were received from:
Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire
“The bid will celebrate the diversity of Renfrewshire’s communities and provide an opportunity to remind the rest of the world what Paisley has done, is doing – and will do next!”
Sunil Varu, Paisley First
“Paisley First completely supports the bid for City of Culture status. A successful bid will lead us to re-engage with our prime audience and help us to improve the overall quality of experience in the town centre”.
Professor Gayle McPherson, Chair in Events and Cultural Policy at University of West of Scotland
“We can use the process of bidding for UK City of Culture 2021 to leverage social change through cultural regeneration; inspire our artists, musicians and people to tell their stories and demonstrate the depth of cultural engagement we have in the communities we serve.”
Nick Shields, Scottish Enterprise
“A successful bid from Paisley would highlight the fantastic industrial and commercial heritage that Paisley possesses, how this has contributed to the fabric and skyline of the town and how this business success lives on. Paisley was built on the back of the creative textiles industry and the legacy of this is clear to see in the town.”
Audrey Cumberford, West College Scotland
“Over the years Paisley has raised and taught men and women who have gone on to change the world. Today it remains one of Scotland’s great centres of education, where new generations of young people are equipped with the skills to help them shape the future.”
Tom Stewart, Ashtree House Hotel, Paisley
“The announcement of the bid, and indeed the journey and the prize of Paisley City of Culture 2021, is the single most important step that has been made for Paisley. This will put Paisley on the world map where it rightly belongs and will no doubt create a great tourism, education and cultural centre for all to enjoy.”