It’s been quite a jour­ney – and it’s not over yet Bid di­rec­tor Jean Cameron salutes Pais­ley’s 2021 cam­paign

Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page -

To­day is the big day – the day when Pais­ley will dis­cover if it has been se­lected as UK City of Cul­ture 2021.

Vic­tory over the other four en­trants – Coven­try, Stoke, Sun­der­land and Swansea – could un­lock a £175 mil­lion eco­nomic jack­pot and cre­ate al­most 5,000 jobs over the next decade.

Suc­cess would also bring the prospect of Pais­ley host­ing the likes of the Turner Prize and Ra­dio 1’s Big Week­end.

The Ex­press has asked key peo­ple in­volved in the bid process, or with a vested in­ter­est in the town’s fu­ture, what suc­cess would mean to them.

On Satur­day, we kicked things off with the views of Alan McNiven, chief ex­ec­u­tive of En­gage Ren­frew­shire, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that of­fers ad­vice on vol­un­teer­ing.

On Mon­day, Sharon McAu­lay, project man­ager of The STAR Project, in Pais­ley, shared her story.

Then on Tues­day Tommy McGrory, from Pais­ley mu­sic char­ity Loud n Proud, has his say on the bid.

Yes­ter­day, re­spected Pais­ley busi­ness­man Piero Pier­ac­cini had his say – and now to­day bid di­rec­tor Jean Cameron takes us across the fin­ish line.

Within hours we will have a de­ci­sion on who will win the UK City of Cul­ture 2021 ti­tle, and it’s a good time to re­flect on the in­cred­i­ble jour­ney that bid­ding has taken us on.

It’s one I very much hope marks the start of an amaz­ing ad­ven­ture ei­ther way.

I could not be more proud of Pais­ley.

Our com­mu­nity has thrown it­self be­hind the bid and the past two years has seen our pro­file height­ened around the globe, as well as chal­leng­ing the per­cep­tions oth­ers may have held of us.

The spot­light has been fo­cused and Pais­ley and we have shone.

We have hosted world-class events such as the Bri­tish Pipe Band Cham­pi­onships, the first ever Weave Fes­ti­val and at­tracted cross-party sup­port from both Holy­rood and West­min­ster. It’s given us back a real sense of pride and self-con­fi­dence af­ter suf­fer­ing many blows in re­cent years.

It’s also al­lowed us, as a com­mu­nity, to have a shared vi­sion and sense of pur­pose and it’s been won­der­ful to see some of the new part­ner­ships that have been formed.

We com­mis­sioned Ren­frew au­thor Ross MacKen­zie to de­velop a book called Grace’s Big Idea, which was dis­trib­uted to 14,000 school­child­ren ask­ing them to sub­mit their big idea.

Ren­frew­shire Coun­cil’s Cul­ture, Her­itage and Events Fund has al­lowed peo­ple to de­fine what cul­ture means to them.

It has so far sup­ported 74 projects with an in­vest­ment of £600,000 – and will stay in place as one of the key lega­cies of the bid.

For me, I think a real turn­ing point was when Pais­ley was short­listed for the ti­tle in July.

Ev­ery gen­er­a­tion, from our school­child­ren to our older res­i­dents, were just fired up with op­ti­mism and there was a pal­pa­ble sense that we can do this.

As Pais­ley 2021 bid di­rec­tor, there have been so many high­lights for me per­son­ally.

Watch­ing the mass out­door per­for­mance of Gerry Raf­ferty’s Baker Street by 25 sax­o­phon­ists in front of a crowd of hun­dreds was thrilling.

I also had a lump in my throat when a num­ber of our school choirs and com­mu­nity joined voices as one with Carol Laula to sign Will Ye Go Lassie Go to mark our bid send-off to the Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport , which or­gan­ises the com­pe­ti­tion.

When the judg­ing panel came to Pais­ley and vis­ited our Tan­nahill Cen­tre in Fer­gus­lie Park, the buzz was amaz­ing.

Poet Shaun Moore’s ren­di­tion of The Sma’ Shot Sma’ Folk was sim­ply elec­tri­fy­ing

I think we gave a real sense of what our bid was about when we lit­er­ally weaved our proud tex­tiles her­itage into our ac­tual bid doc­u­ments with lo­cal artists, groups and de­sign­ers pro­duc­ing be­spoke bid cov­ers.

Win­ning this ti­tle would be life-chang­ing for some of Scot­land’s most de­prived com­mu­ni­ties and would trans­form Pais­ley’s fu­ture.

The eco­nomic im­pact would be fan­tas­tic and would cre­ate the equiv­a­lent of 4,700 new jobs, 1.8 mil­lion at­ten­dances at events, as well as cre­at­ing im­por­tant so­cial im­pacts in terms of help­ing peo­ple feel­ing con­nected again.

Cul­ture has the power to change lives and no mat­ter what hap­pens, this evening, Pais­ley will use its unique cul­tural and her­itage story to make the town a key des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors, events and cre­ative in­dus­try.

With in­vest­ment in our his­toric venues al­ready con­firmed and an in­ter­na­tional air­port on our doorstep, we are ready and wait­ing to host a win­ning Year of Cul­ture in 2021 – and a warm Bud­die wel­come awaits every­one.

We are ready to host a win­ning Year of Cul­ture – and a warm wel­come awaits every­one

A bid for all Meet­ing the Ren­frew­shire Movie Mak­ers and pho­tog­ra­phy groups in Septem­ber at Pais­ley’s Dis­abil­ity Re­source Cen­tre

In­spir­ing the young Jean pic­tured in Septem­ber 2015 at St Fer­gus’ Pri­mary in Fer­gus­lie Park – where she was once a pupil – with pupils James Ramsay and Jade Cor­ri­gan

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