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Paisley ready to bid as UK City of Culture 2021 competition launches

The team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture say the town will be ready to host the 2021 title – after the UK Government today fired the starting gun on the competition.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today formally launched the 2021 competition, with bids due in for 28 April, and the winner to be announced at the end of the year.

Paisley ready to bid as UK City of Culture 2021 competition launches

The guidelines were announced by Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock MP during a visit to Hull, the current holders of the title, which runs every four years.

Paisley’s unique assets include the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern, Scotland’s second-highest concentration of listed buildings, and an internationally significant museum collection, including the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls.

The town also offers a thriving contemporary cultural scene, a highly-regarded university, international airport, and PACE, one of the UK’s largest youth theatre groups.

Paisley officially launched its intention to bid in November 2015 and the year since has seen an outpouring of support from the local community and beyond, including:

- more than 8,000 local people taking part in conversations around the bid;

- messages of support from homegrown cultural icons such as singer Paolo Nutini and playwright John Byrne;

- backing from more than 100 businesses, including Glasgow Airport, intu Braehead and the University of the West of Scotland;

- 70 million opportunities to see or hear something positive about Paisley, helping change perceptions and the tone of conversation about the town;

- cross-party political support, with an event at Westminster and one of the best –attended parliamentary receptions in the history of the Scottish Parliament;

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 partnership board and Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “We would like to thank DCMS for giving us the chance to bid for this title – we hope to use it to transform the area’s fortunes, bringing massive economic benefits and a lasting social and cultural legacy.

"The first week of Hull's UK City of Culture year saw 342,000 visitors to the city – that is scale of boost this title could bring.

“Paisley’s name was once carried across the world thanks to the Pattern and its status as the one-time home of the global thread industry – for its size, the town’s contribution to the world has been massive.

“This bid will retell Paisley’s unique story to the world, while showing the judges Paisley wants the title, needs the title and can deliver it.”

Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 Bid Director, added: “Over the past year we have had wonderful backing from the people of Paisley – and our thriving creative community has been at the heart of that.

“In that time we have seen a new sense of confidence and awareness of everything Paisley has to offer – and we will distil that into a bid which shows DCMS how we plan to harness the power of culture to make people’s lives better.

“We would also like to wish all the best to all the other cities who will be joining us on the bidding journey.”

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Securing UK City of Culture status would have a hugely positive effect on Paisley and everyone at Glasgow Airport is fully behind the bid.

“As well as providing a nationwide platform to showcase the town’s rich cultural heritage, it would also create a legacy of enduring civic pride for the people of Paisley.

“There’s no doubt a successful bid would play a significant role in boosting inbound tourism, so having an international airport serving more than nine million passengers just minutes from the town centre can only be to Paisley’s advantage.

“We hope our continued support can help play a part and wish the bid team good luck.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said: “UWS is extremely proud to be one of the key partners of Paisley 2021.

“The university has already contributed to a number of initiatives related to the bid including an innovative digital art exhibition at Paisley Museum, which was commissioned by UWS in support of the bid.

“University staff are also playing an integral part in bid planning and delivery. We are excited about being part of the process and continuing to work with our partners to showcase Paisley.”

David Wallace, managing director of PACE theatre company and chair of the Creative Renfrewshire Network said, “The past year has been phenomenal in terms of taking pride in and perceptions of Paisley to a new level.

“The young people in the company now talk excitedly about their town and the competition launch brings their dream of a creative future one step closer.”

Although Paisley is not a city, the competition is open to large towns and urban areas, so as Scotland’s largest town, Paisley is equipped to apply and win.

You can show your support for the bid by pushing the button on our website homepage now.