“When hope persuades, and Fame inspires us, and pride with warm ambitions fires us. Let reason instant seize the bridle”

Thank you everyone for attending today and welcome to the official launch of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Your show of support today is greatly appreciated.

We all know that the regeneration of Paisley and ultimately the hopes, ambitions and aspirations of the people who live, work, and have a connection with Renfrewshire, transcends politics.

That is why Renfrewshire Council has been working hard, and will continue to strive, to ensure that this bid is truly representative of our community and is owned by Paisley and the people of Renfrewshire. We pledge to have an authentic voice in the UK City of Culture bidding process and to be honest and upfront about the challenges we face. We know that previous winners were places that demonstrated a clear vision to use the title to change their areas for the better. And that is where our focus will be over the next 18 months - with our bid due to be lodged in spring 2017.

Today, Paisley throws its hat in the ring and we take our place in a prestigious competition which we know catapults winners on to a national and international stage.

The bid was one of the key recommendations in a major strategy - the Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy. We know that Paisley and its town centre are vital to the economic and social performance of all of Renfrewshire, and the strategy sought to harness our outstanding heritage, history, cultural connections and architectural assets for future generations right across Renfrewshire.

Specifically, the strategy set out an ambitious vision for Paisley including turning the museum and art gallery into a world-class destination based on our rich textile history, breathing life back in to Paisley as a visitor destination, and crucially, creating employment opportunities.

So while our launch today is about getting off the starting blocks, it is also the culmination of years of careful planning and financial programming which has allowed us to commit £22m for capital regeneration.

As a result, proposals which will be considered by the council next week - will put people at the heart of our bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Today, our ambitions are becoming a reality as we put in motion what will be a £56.7m investment aimed at placing Paisley Museum on that world stage. This includes an immediate commitment from Renfrewshire Council of £15m of capital funding; a grant application for match funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund. And a major fund raising effort will ensure we reach our target and bring our ambitious plans to fruition.

As a result, visitor numbers to the museum are estimated to triple from 50,000 to 150,000, almost 250 jobs will be created and up to £89m generated for the local economy based on the economic and cultural regeneration brought about by the museum transformation alone. Experts have endorsed our museum collections as “internationally significant” and it is now time to show our confidence and commitment in what Paisley has to offer to the world.

Today I can also announce:


  • A £3.7m world class museum store to support plans to achieve an internationally significant museum and open up access to the entire museum collections for education and research. That museum store will be in the heart of the town centre - a first for the UK.


  • £2.7m earmarked to support investment in developing Paisley’s lending library service.


  • From the local arts and cultural community, to professional artists and individuals, we all know Paisley has strong credentials. We will demonstrate our support through a new half-a-million pound creative fund to tap in to the area’s diverse talent pool and help unlock Paisley’s potential.


We are not reinventing Paisley. This bid is utterly authentic. It’s about Paisley’s history and its culture. It’s about our historic buildings, - what could be a more fitting place for our launch than the breathtaking surroundings of our 850-year-old Abbey?

It’s about our great and our good. Witherspoon, Tannahill, Rafferty, Byrne, Conti, Nutini, Tennant, Stoddart - all household names. Paisley has produced numerous famous and historic cultural figures and all of that spirit was forged on the hard work and enterprise of the women of the mills.

It’s about Paisley’s story, which is rich and fascinating with strong themes of people, makers and thought. And as proud as we are about our history we have lots to shout about in the present too. It’s about our outstanding location, our highly regarded educational institutions, and our thriving grass roots contemporary cultural scene, including the UK’s largest youth theatre group.

We also launch the Paisley 2021 brand today which encapsulates what we hope will mark Paisley out as a serious contender.

The brand expresses and celebrates our most iconic export, the Paisley pattern.

We gave the world the Paisley Pattern and a fantastic weaving tradition. We want that pattern to become synonymous once again with Paisley the town. It serves to remind the rest of the world of our unique heritage, the global significance of the pattern and our determination to punch above our weight with the cultural regeneration of the town.

“When hope persuades, and Fame inspires us, and pride with warm ambitions fires us. Let reason instant seize the bridle” – so wrote Paisley’s poet and weaver Robert Tannahill.

We are counting on everyone here today to seize that bridle, be Paisley’s ambassadors and to play your part in unlocking Paisley’s potential.

Your role is to ensure that all our communities in Paisley and across Renfrewshire, not only feel involved, but are involved in the future transformation of their area.

There is no single voice in Paisley and Renfrewshire, we are a community of voices, and I know we are all committed to encouraging dialogue about the area’s aspirations - and ensuring that no voice is left unheard.

So, let the Bid begin.

Thank you