Paisley loses UK City of Culture 2021 bid to Coventry

Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea were also in the running for the coveted award.

Paisley: 40,000 people involved in bid. Paisley City of Culture

Paisley has lost its bid to become the UK's City of Culture 2021.

The Renfrewshire town was beaten by Coventry, which will take over the title from current holder Hull.

Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea were the other cities in the running for the coveted award.

Paisley's bid had been supported by a two-year campaign involving more than 30,000 people.

Local celebrities including singer Paolo Nutini, Hollywood actor Gerard Butler and artist John Byrne had also lent their support to the bid.

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: "We are of course heartbroken not to win the title as we know how much the people of the town poured into this - but at the same time those hearts are bursting with pride at what Paisley achieved in the past two years.


"Our warmest congratulations go to Coventry - they pulled together a really impressive body of support from their partners and we wish them all the best for 2021.

"More than 34,000 people - equivalent to almost half of Paisley's population - added their voices and ideas to the town's bid, and our thanks go to every single one of you for an incredible effort and those ideas will still be taken forward.

"We are proud to be the only town to ever make the shortlist and by some distance the smallest place to ever get this far in the competition - few places of Paisley's size can claim to have given the world so much over the years, and the town punched above its weight once again."

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said those involved in the bid should feel "immensely proud", despite the result.

She said: "Paisley's bid journey has been inspiring‎. Beginning two years ago with hundreds of people gathered at the picturesque Paisley Abbey for the official launch.

"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 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."



As part of the bid, Renfrewshire Council launched a culture, heritage and events fund to increase capacity among the local creative scene - with demand so high the initial £500,000 investment was topped up to £1m.

Highlights included the stop-motion Paisley-themed Lego animation by local teenage filmmaker Morgan Spence, seen by millions around the world.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: "We were very much in it to win it - but the disappointment of missing out is eased by knowing how much stronger we are for taking part.

"The bid was part of a bigger plan to use Paisley's unique cultural and heritage assets to make it a key destination for visitors and events while reigniting the creativity spark which is in our DNA - and while winning the bid would have accelerated the journey, that journey will continue."

Arts and Business Scotland chief executive David Watt said the announcement was "obviously disappointing news", but Paisley could still benefit from the momentum built up during the campaign.

He added: "In particular, many local businesses have already shown an active commitment to get behind the bid and to work in partnership with the local arts and heritage communities to deliver an outstanding programme of cultural activity in Paisley.

" We will be continuing discussions with local businesses and cultural organisations in the months ahead with a view to hopefully making that happen."

Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: "This is a win for Coventry, a win for young people and a win for diversity. The economic impact will be huge for the city and the West Midlands.

"Over the next three years we will ensure that everyone in the city, which has been moving people by cycle, car and jet engine, is now moving people through culture."

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