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