Plans to build a lasting legacy of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 are taking a major step forward – with a £500,000 investment to develop the area’s creative sector being revealed.
The town’s bid for the title was part of a wider plan to transform the fortunes of Paisley and Renfrewshire by harnessing the power of the area’s globally-significant cultural and heritage story.
The partners behind the bid are now working on a detailed legacy plan to make sure Paisley’s journey continues and deliver on the vision of the bid over the next decade.
One of the key strands of that is in growing the area’s independent cultural sector – and the half-million-pound investment unveiled today by Renfrewshire Council – using money set aside to fund the 2021 year had the town won the title – aims to do that. It comes in two parts:
- £360,000 for a new Organisational Development Fund to grow the independent creative sector locally over the next three years.
By giving existing groups certainty over budgets it is hoped they could expand to a level where they could apply for and get national funding and become sustainable at that level. Detailed criteria and application process have yet to be developed, but the fund is due to run from 2019 until 2022.
- a £140,000 top-up for the existing Culture Heritage and Events Fund, allowing it to run until 2021. The fund ran alongside the bid with the aims of increasing cultural participation, showcasing the town’s story, and allowing local talent to work with organisations of national stature.
It has supported more than 80 projects to date with highlights including teenage animator Morgan Spence’s Lego animation about the town, local dance group Right2Dance bringing Sir Matthew Bourne’s Re:Bourne company here for a week-long residency, and local music charity Loud ‘n’ Proud’s Bungalow Bar musical on how a small Paisley venue hosted the biggest names in the UK punk scene
The funding announcement comes within days of the launch of a new destination brand and website – Paisley is – designed to promote the area as a great place to live, invest and visit.
Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure – whose Cultural Services team will administer both funds – said: “The Paisley 2021 bid has already changed Paisley for the better – it raised our profile, made people aware of our untold story, and brought a sense of self-confidence back to a town which needed that boost.
“And it’s important people know that journey will continue. It may not be the turbocharged journey we would have had if we’d won – but the bid focused the area behind a very clear vision for the area’s future, which we will still deliver on.
“That vision was to grow a new dimension to the local economy through creative industry, ensure the area is recognised for its cultural excellence, transform Paisley’s image, lift communities out of poverty, and make our town centres vibrant destinations.
“Over the next few years we and our partners will deliver all of the above – and the investment announced today feeds into those aims.
“By helping the local creative sector grow through this funding, we equip them to stage more events, festivals and projects which showcase what the area has to offer and bring people here, with all the benefits that brings to the local economy.
“At the same time, we know culture has a positive impact on well-being and life chances – which is why we are putting that at the heart of everything we do from now on.
“By helping local groups create more opportunities for people to access those benefits it supports the wider work across the area around health and education and to tackle poverty.
“The investment in cultural capacity is just one of several parts of the 2021 legacy – we already have a confirmed £100m+ investment in town centre venues and infrastructure, have just announced £5m of additional budget to grow our major events and festivals programme, and have more support on the way to develop the area as a hub for creative industry.
“All those benefits that will be felt throughout all of Renfrewshire – not just Paisley – and with the new Paisley Is… brand signposting to all the events and local culture which makes us a great destination there’s loads going on to feel excited by.”