The arts’ role in combatting poverty – aided by long-term commitment of local community members – has been highlighted in University of the West of Scotland (UWS) evidence review.

The evidence review is the most recent paper published from the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events (CCSE) at UWS, which has been delivered in collaboration with members of the local community.

UWS’s Dr Sophie Mamattah said: “This piece of work highlights the relationship between investment in arts and culture and the alleviation of material poverty too – showing that investing in local culture has real benefits for local communities; one of the primary focuses of the Future Paisley project.”

The CCSE is jointly funded by UWS and the Future Paisley programme. CCSE has been set up to undertake collaborative research and development work that has relevance for the Renfrewshire area, nationally and internationally.

‘The Role of Arts and Culture in Lifting Communities Out of Poverty’ was published by Dr Mamattah, Professor David McGillivray, Professor Gayle McPherson (all from the CCSE at UWS) and Tamsin Cox (DHA Communications), as part of the UKRI Enhancing Place-Based Partnerships for Public Engagement Project.

The review looks at existing research on the subject, alongside work with Renfrewshire Council, the STAR Project Paisley and local community members to co-produce new research into the ways in which the arts – including visual art, theatre and music – and creativity affect individual and community wellbeing.

To help inform the research workshops were held earlier in the year with members of the local community in Shortroods. The Paisley Art and Soul workshops asked local people their views on why culture is important to them.

Dr Mammatah added: “By analysing existing research in the field, and conducting our own research through workshops with local people in Paisley and Renfrewshire, we have been able to highlight the ways in which arts and culture are important for people in their everyday lives, and bring the community viewpoint into ongoing discussions at policy level.”

The report, which contains a series of recommendations for those working in the field of cultural regeneration, cultural policy, local government, third sector and in cultural institutions, helps address one of the key step changes outlined by Future Paisley – on the power of art and culture to lift communities out of poverty.

The Future Paisley Partnership is a collaborative group of 21 organisations, including the research project partners UWS, STAR Project and Renfrewshire Council, which was created following Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 Bid and has since established its long-term commitment to working together to harness the power of culture and creativity for the benefit of local residents. Members of the partnership range from local businesses and third sector organisations to regional and national organisations such as the NHS, Police Scotland and Creative Scotland.

Renfrewshire Council Leader and Chair of the Future Paisley Partnership Board, Councillor Iain Nicolson, said: “The role of arts and culture in empowering our communities was a key part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and is now one of the main drivers of the Future Paisley programme.

“The work carried out by our partners in the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events in collaboration with local organisations and community members takes us a step further towards realising our cultural regeneration ambitions to use the power of arts and culture to help lift communities out of poverty.”

As well as hoping to make an impact at a local level, the report provides wider context and understanding into the ways in which arts and culture can influence experiences of prosperity and wellbeing, as well as informing the activities of other institutions looking to embed arts and culture in their broader poverty alleviation strategies. The research team also hope it can be used to influence broader academic policy debates on the role of the arts and cultures in addressing issues associated with material poverty both locally and nationally.

The work of the CCSE is supported by Future Paisley – a programme of economic, social and physical regeneration using the area’s rich culture and heritage to transform its future. The programme is led by Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure are leading on the key events and investment supported by local partners including Engage Renfrewshire, UWS, WCS and the NHS.

The review is available to view online now.