Bid di­rec­tor Jean: We have so much to cel­e­brate

Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page -

When Pais­ley sub­mit­ted its bid for UK City of Cul­ture 2021, few could re­alise just how mo­men­tous the jour­ney was go­ing to be, writes bid di­rec­tor Jean Cameron.

Since the dawn of the two-year cam­paign, 34,000 peo­ple — equiv­a­lent to more than half the town’s pop­u­la­tion — took part in the con­ver­sa­tion around the bid.

The town has played host to ma­jor events in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Pipe Band Cham­pi­onships, Scot­tish Al­bum of the Year Awards and Pais­ley Hal­loween Fes­ti­val, as well as the first ever Weave arts fes­ti­val as part of the town’s Sma’ Shot cel­e­bra­tions.

Pais­ley star Paolo Nu­tini played a tri­umphant home­com­ing con­cert at the Abbey as part of the an­nual Spree fes­ti­val, while, in April, footage of a mass out­door ren­di­tion of Gerry Raf­ferty’s iconic hit Baker Street went vi­ral and brought the town cen­tre to a stand­still.

World­wide, the cam­paign reached more than 270 mil­lion peo­ple, with the lat­est vis­i­tor num­bers in peo­ple com­ing to Pais­ley’s events also show­ing a mas­sive 25 per cent hike on the pre­vi­ous year.

But at the very heart of the bid was the premise that cul­ture can trans­form lives.

The £1mil­lion Ren­frew­shire Cul­ture, Heritage and Events Fund was set up and has fi­nanced col­lab­o­ra­tions like those be­tween Sir Matthew Bourne’s Re:Bourne dance com­pany and lo­cal group Right2Dance and teenage an­i­ma­tor Morgan Spence’s stop­mo­tion Lego video, now seen by mil­lions of peo­ple.

The fund also gifted the lo­cal com­mu­nity the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate cul­ture on their own term, as well as pro­vid­ing a last­ing legacy of the process.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties united in their sup­port of Pais­ley, with the bid en­dorsed by Scot­land’s First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon, Scot­tish Sec­re­tary David Mun­dell, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive leader Ruth Davidson and former Scot­tish Labour leader Kezia Dug­dale.

More than 200 lo­cal busi­nesses also got be­hind the town’s ti­tle am­bi­tions, in­clud­ing Glas­gow In­ter­na­tional Air­port and Scot­land’s largest en­ter­tain­ment com­plex intu Brae­head.

Global drinks gi­ants Di­a­geo branded a lim­ited edi­tion run of Pais­ley 2021 branded John­nie Walker bot­tles, while the Gor­don Les­lie Group em­bla­zoned trail­ers with the bid logo, which trav­elled the length and breadth of the coun­try.

Pais­ley’s bid was part of a wider plan to trans­form the town’s fu­ture us­ing its in­ter­na­tion­ally-sig­nif­i­cant heritage and cul­tural story.

As well as boost­ing the town’s rep­u­ta­tion and world pro­file, it created a new aware­ness of why the town mat­ters to Scot­land, the UK, and the world.

The mo­men­tum created is still gath­er­ing pace and the town, which was once at the cen­tre of the world’s thread in­dus­try, will now use that same legacy to trans­form its fu­ture.

The iconic is Pais­ley Pat­tern at the fore­front of the plans to rein­vent the town’s tex­tile heritage for the 21st cen­tury to bring more vis­i­tors here.

It was fea­tured in lux­ury knitwear brand Pringle’s 2017 Au­tumn Win­ter col­lec­tion.

A new des­ti­na­tion brand will launch in 2018 to make the town a key draw on the tourist map.

Work to re­vi­talise the town cen­tre and econ­omy is al­ready un­der­way, with a £113m in­vest­ment in the town cen­tre and venues, in­clud­ing a £22m re­vamp of Pais­ley Town Hall and a £42m re­vamp of Pais­ley Mu­seum.

The Se­cret Col­lec­tion, the UK’s first ever pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble mu­seum store on a High Street, is set to breathe new life into the town cen­tre.

It will re­veal tens of thou­sands of ob­jects from Pais­ley mu­seum col­lec­tions on dis­play for the first time in a gen­er­a­tion in the new £3.7m fa­cil­ity be­neath the town cen­tre.

Over the next decade there will also be £276m of ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects tak­ing place in Ren­frew­shire as part of the Glas­gow Re­gion City Deal.

The com­pe­ti­tion may be over, but the jour­ney con­tin­ues for Pais­ley and the com­mu­nity who so pas­sion­ately backed the bid.

We are, of course, heart­bro­ken not to win the ti­tle as we know how much the peo­ple of the town poured into this — but, at the same time, those hearts are burst­ing with pride at what Pais­ley achieved in the past two years.

Our warm­est congratulations go to Coven­try — they pulled to­gether a re­ally im­pres­sive body of sup­port from their part­ners and we wish them all the best for 2021.

We are proud to be the only town to ever make the short­list and by some dis­tance the small­est place to ever get this far in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Few places of Pais­ley’s size can claim to have given the world so much over the years, and the town punched above its weight once again.

The next chap­ter in our story is only just be­gin­ning.

High­light Gerry Raf­ferty’s Baker Street was per­formed en masse in the town

Home­com­ing Paolo Nu­tini per­formed at Pais­ley Abbey

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