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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offers backing to Paisley 2021 culture bid

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been given the seal of approval from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The town was named at the weekend as the only Scottish place on the shortlist for the prestigious cultural title, run by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offers backing to Paisley 2021 culture bid

Paisley is bidding for the title as part of a wider push to use the town’s unique heritage and cultural story as the home of the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern to transform its future.

And First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Congratulations to Paisley for reaching the next stage in becoming UK City of Culture 2021. It’s a huge boost for a place whose cultural life is clearly thriving.

“To get down to the last five is an incredible achievement, and Paisley now represents Scotland in the bid for this prestigious title. I wish them all the very best.”

The past few days have seen an outpouring of good wishes on social media – with leading politicians, national agencies and cultural figures all showing support.

Cross-party political backing has already come from Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, and the leaders of the Scottish Labour and Conservative parties Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, as well as local MPs and MSPs.

And the bid has been praised by the head of the country’s arts funding body for the impact it is already having on people’s lives.

Janet Archer, CEO at Creative Scotland said: “We are immensely pleased that Paisley has deservedly been shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021.

“Paisley’s bid highlights the potential of culture to change lives, its groundbreaking programme ranges from large-scale cultural events to transformative projects led by the people of Paisley.

“We wish all involved the very best in taking this exciting project to its next stage.''

It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £172m economic boost and create the equivalent of 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period.

Current UK City of Culture hosts Hull have seen £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013, with the city attracting 1.4m visitors in just the first three months of its year in the spotlight.

Paisley is joined on the shortlist by Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

Councillor Iain Nicolson, leader of Renfrewshire Council and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, added: “We are delighted to have the backing of the first minister, and of Janet Archer and Creative Scotland.

“There has never been a Scottish winner of the competition but we would love to be the first. The support we’ve had has been incredible – Paisley’s bid is now Scotland’s bid too.

“If we win the title in 2021, the benefits will be felt across the whole country – in terms of visitors and economic impact and as a showcase of cultural excellence – and we want to work with anybody who can help make that happen.”

Find out how you can pledge your support for Paisley 2021.