Coventry beats Paisley to be named the next UK City of Culture

PAISLEY has been left disappointed after losing out to Coventry in its bid to be named the next UK City of Culture.

The only Scottish finalist, Paisley, which was backed by 
Singer Songwriter Paolo Nutini was narrowly beaten by Coventry. Picture: 
Mark F Gibson
The only Scottish finalist, Paisley, which was backed by Singer Songwriter Paolo Nutini was narrowly beaten by Coventry. Picture: Mark F Gibson

The Renfrewshire town was one of five contenders for the title in 2021, with Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea also on the shortlist. The title is currently being hosted by Hull and was previously won by Derry.

The official announcement from the UK Government said the winning bid had impressed the judges with its focus on youth, diversity and scale of impact.

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Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said Paisley had been on an “inspiring” journey over the last two years during the bidding process.

She added: “Since then businesses, cultural and community groups have thrown their support behind the town’s ambitions. A real strength has been the extensive community engagement with more than 30,000 people involved - all helping to put together an outstanding bid for Paisley and for Scotland.

“Despite just missing out they can all be immensely proud of their efforts, they have done Paisley and Scotland proud and there is much to build upon.”

The world-famous Paisley Pattern and the town’s textile heritage going back to the 17th century were at the heart of its bid, along with historic venues like the town’s 12th century abbey, and its Victorian-era town hall and museum.

Singer Paolo Nutini, actor Gerard Butler, artist John Byrne and fashion designer Pam Hogg were among the big names from Paisley to back the bid, which was supported by more than 200 local businesses.

It was predicted that the title would be worth around £175 million to the local economy and create 4700 jobs in Paisley over the next 10 years, with more than a million visitors hoped to flock to the town during 2021 itself.

Around £110 million worth of improvements in cultural venues and town centre infrastructure was pledged in advance, with Renfrewshire Council previously insisting they would go ahead regardless of the bid’s success.

This includes a £42 million overhaul of its Victorian museum, which won the crucial backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund in September.

Also going ahead will be a £22 million overhaul of its town hall, a £2.5 million revamp of Paisley Arts Centre, a £7.7 million project to make St James playing field suitable for major events and £10 worth of physical improvements to the town centre itself.

Paisley has spent more than three years working on its bid for the title, which was instigated by the UK Government in the wake of Liverpool’s successful reign as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Both Perth and Paisley entered the 2021 race after Dundee lost out to Hull for the 2017 title. However Perth was ousted from the running when the shortlist emerged in July.

The programme of events planned for Paisley in 2021 was kept firmly under wraps during the bidding process, but was predicted to attract 1.7 million attendees.

However £10 million of backing was secured in advance from the Scottish Government, with the council pledging a further £8.7 million.

Despite losing out for the 2017 UK City of Culture title, Dundee mounted a more ambitious bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

However last month it emerged that the hopes of Dundee and rival bidders Belfast-Derry, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Nottingham had been scuppered after the European Commission cancelled the UK’s right to host the contest.