Paisley plans £40m cinema complex to boost City of Culture bid

paisleyA new £40 million cinema and performing arts theatre is to be built in the heart of Paisley to spearhead the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

The Paisley Community Trust is behind proposals to create the 500-seat main theatre, five cinema screens, a cafe bar, restaurant, educational hub and a cultural creative industry space.

Supported with a £40,000 grant from Renfrewshire Council, the trust commissioned BOP Consulting to carry out a feasibility study in July which outlined several key areas for the regeneration strategy of the town including the provision of a theatre and a strong focus on community-led initiatives.

More than half of those surveyed expressed a demand for live music, theatre, comedy and blockbuster movies as well as arthouse film and live broadcasts.

The study estimated the cost of the new venue will be around £40m which will be funded from a mixture of private, public and lottery funding.

Gary Kerr, chairman of the trust, did not reveal exactly where the proposed cinema would be built but said it would be modelled on Glasgow Film Theatre, rather than a generic multiplex.

Five sites have been identified with plans set to be unveiled next month.

Mr Kerr said: “The town has a proud and rich history in cinema and a highly-regarded performing arts scene.

“Paisley is home, of course, to the UK’s largest youth theatre group, PACE, and the recently opened Rock and Pop School of Scotland.

“At the conclusion of our feasibility research, we are all confident in the demand and convinced on the transformational impact our new venue will have on the town.

“This is a community-led initiative and we urge all Paisley residents to support us.”

David Wallace, director of PACE and trustee of Paisley Community Trust, said: “Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021 could be transformational for our town both in terms of regeneration and in its cultural offer.

“Currently Paisley and Renfrewshire has a thriving and vibrant cultural scene which will now be able to build capacity, develop and produce new, exciting and innovative artistic projects both locally and in partnership with national and international cultural partners.

“A new multi-purpose arts venue in the town centre will be at the heart of this cultural transformation and PACE, one of the many cultural organisations in Paisley, is fully behind both this proposal and that of the bid for UK City of Culture status for our magnificent town.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan added: “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 has had some phenomenal support from throughout the community.

“We’ve always said the bid will only succeed if the local community comes forward and takes ownership of it - which is why we are delighted the Paisley Community Trust have been doing exactly that.

“We expect the bid will bring about an explosion in cultural activity around the town and this proposed venue could help capture much of that, while also being a valuable educational facility

“The initial feasibility work showed there is a demand for it – we will continue to work with the Trust as they develop their plans further in the months ahead.”

It is hoped the venue will be open by 2021.

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