Piero Pieraccini reckons we can outdo Edinburgh Festival
Tomorrow 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 £175million 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.
And yesterday Tommy McGrory, from Paisley music charity Loud n Proud, had his say on the bid.
Today, well-known and respected businessman Piero Pieraccini, who runs Hamishes’ Hoose pub in Paisley High Street, airs his views.
What a journey it’s been for me seeing all the people of Paisley realising there is a possibility of us becoming UK City of Culture 2021.
I am amazed at what we have discovered about ourselves, and our town, in the past year or so.
I’ve been proud to chat to regulars and various visitors to the town about what we can achieve if granted the status of Paisley2021.
I can see events happening every day in every venue, from small halls and pubs to largescale outdoor performances and light shows ... and even a drive-in movie festival. How no?! And not just music and drama, but events from right across the cultural spectrum.
I reckon that we will outdo Edinburgh’s festival.
I can see visitors coming to take in a performance and be part of the exciting events, marvel at our fabulous buildings and meeting genuine Paisley folk.
The shops, bars and restaurants will be busier to accommodate the extra visitors which, in turn, will attract new retailers to the town.
This is the best opportunity we have had to regenerate the town in the past 30-odd years.
Even the fact that we submitted a bid has shown we can achieve a huge degree of imagination and a powerful will to do bigger and better.
I thought that the events leading up to the sending off of our bid were fantastic.
Who can forget the live mass saxophone tribute to Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, with live band and at the cenotaph?
Also, local band Lemonhaze at St Mirren’s Paisley 2021 stadium before a football match playing the Skids track The Saints Are Coming ... and the Skids themselves along with Big Country playing a double bill in the town hall.
And What about the send-off of the bid, with Carol Laula singing Wild Mountain Thyme with a 150-strong choir in front of a huge crowd?
As moving and inclusive as you can get ... I still get a lump in my throat thinking of it.
In one of my numerous chats with Tommy McGrory, he said someone asked him during the Baker Street performance “What will it be like during a City of Culture year?” Tommy’s response was: “Every day will have something like this, and bigger, on to entertain the folk and visitors who will flock to Paisley.” What a guy. Of course, I get excited about the prospect of Paisley being the focus of national and international interest that will encourage more folk to come and discover our riches.
For me, the best thing about the Paisley 2021 bid journey is that folk from outside the town are beginning to realise we are not just another Scottish town with a sprinkling of celebrities but a town that has a wealth of ideas, a wealth of talent, a wealth of culture and a wealth of warmth.
I am amazed about what we have discovered about ourselves and our town
We’re backing the bid From left, Tony Lawler, Piero Pieraccini, Marie Connelly, Les Fernie and Carla Corneli
Star bar man Piero at Hamishes’ Hoose