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Paisley, Looking to the Future

What for many seemed unlikely has come to pass with Paisley being shortlisted to be the UK City of Culture 2021.Scotland’s largest town will face Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea in the run-off for the accolade after the 11 places bidding for consideration were reduced down to five.The winner, to be announced in December, will hope to reap the benefits, money and image change currently being enjoyed by Hull.

Although it is not a city, Paisley qualifies under rules that include any settlement with a “clear central urban focus”. Iain Nicolson, the leader of Renfrewshire council and chair of the town’s 2021 bid, said: “For the judges to have shortlisted us is a major endorsement of our ambitions for Paisley and Renfrewshire–and we are in it to win it.

“I know local people will be absolutely thrilled at this news–we want to thank every one of them as they are the ones whose incredible contribution made it happen.” More than 30,000 people joined in with the bid, equivalent to almost half the town’s population.

Although the precise economic benefits are difficult to calculate, government officials claim Hull’s economy has been boosted by £60m this year on the back of a daily extravaganza of events in the city.Martin Green, the director of Hull 2017, said nine out of 10 residents had attended at least one cultural event and that the status had raised the city’s profile internationally. To be successful, the 2021 winner must prove its bid is centred around heritage and that it will build on a £3m investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the winning city named in December.

John Glen, the minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: “We have received strong bids from across the UK and now have a fantastic shortlist of five that reflect the diversity and cultural ambition of our towns and cities. I want to congratulate all 11 bids which offered brilliant examples of how to celebrate their own unique culture and heritage, and showed just how prestigious and coveted the UK City of Culture is.“The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities. I have seen first hand how Hull has embraced its status as City of Culture 2017, and how beneficial it has been for the area. I am looking forward to seeing what will come in 2021.”