Paisley School of Arts | Est. 1838 : A Living Archive Project

Paisley School of Arts | Est. 1838 : A Living Archive Project


In 1808, a group of local community figures came together to establish the Paisley Philosophical Institution. This collective vision recognized that there was a growing desire in Paisley, and the wider area, to support and provide cultural and educational development to the town’s inhabitants. The group were particularly conscious of a rich historical legacy, alongside burgeoning and emerging talent, within the community. In response to this, they drew up a set of guiding principles, including a determination to “realise the potential contribution that creativity can make to education, social inclusion and quality of life”.
Playing a significant role in the cultural and creative development of Paisley, and beyond, the membership of Paisley Philosophical Institution supported proactive discussion and the establishment of key cultural resources within the community. The Public Library, Museum and Observatory, now Local Authority responsibilities, are still in use to this day.

Paisley School of Art

An important, yet often forgotten part of this story is the foundation of Paisley School of Arts, established by the Paisley Philosophical Institution in 1838. As an interesting aside, this predates the formation of Glasgow School of Art by a number of years. The development of Paisley School of Arts evolved over the years. From its origins as Paisley School of Arts; a Government School of Art and Design at 14 Gilmore Street, it then grew in size to form the School of Arts and Science. This led to amalgamation with local technical education provision to form the Paisley Technical College and School of Art on Gordon Street and has now developed as part of the multi-campus educational presence of the University of the West of Scotland.
Celebrating a legacy and lineage of creative education
Last year saw the redevelopment and launch of the BA(Hons) New Media Art programme at UWS. At the heart of this programme, students discover and develop their own artistic practices through exploration of diverse platforms from illustration, moving image, animation, multimedia live performance/installation, projection mapping, sound art, creative coding and immersive media (360 Filming/AR/VR). Through learning and exploring historical, contemporary, cultural and social contexts of New Media Art, students become ‘Technical’, ‘Critical’ and ‘Creative’ practitioners. With the ongoing emergence of new and innovative arts training at the University, Paisley can claim to have a long and significant presence in the provision of creative education in Scotland. Here, the University of the West of Scotland forms part of this fascinating timeline.

Paisley School of Arts | Est. 1838 : A Living Archive Project

Mr Trent Kim (Proramme Leader) and Dr Rachael Flynn (Lecturer), staff from the BA(Hons) New Media Art programme, along with Ms Anne Gifford (Head of Arts & Media), were recently awarded funding from Renfrewshire Council, through the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, in order to explore this creative history.

Recognizing the significance of Paisley School of Art, as an important and pioneering presence within the community, the project will focus on this educational and cultural institution, where there is evidence of a longstanding and a continuing flow and flourish of local creativity, with global impact. Whilst national focus and spotlight have been placed elsewhere, this project seeks to reassert the significance of this long-established creative community, which continues to innovate. As we move towards a new chapter in the creative and cultural history of Paisley, with the current £100 million investment of Paisley Town centre, this project will contribute to the reimagined vision of Paisley.

Their project will involve archival research, a series of public workshops, and a culminating Summer School for local school aged children located at the historic site of the Art School on Gordon Street. This work will build to form a Living Archive, across various historic and contemporary sites of interest, recognizing, reasserting, and reimagining the vision and determination of these local figures and a community who believed in the potential for their cultural wealth to create CULTURAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL change.
You can follow the progress of this project via their Social Media channels which are launching this month!

Prof. David McGillivray contributes to public meeting on the commodification of Edinburgh’s public spaces

Prof. David McGillivray contributes to public meeting on the commodification of Edinburgh’s public spaces

On Wednesday 22nd January, 2020, more than 700 people attended a public meeting titled “City for Sale: The Commodification of Edinburgh’s Public Spaces” in Central Hall, Edinburgh. Organised by the Cockburn Association, this event was the outcome of controversy developing over several months caused by the use of Princes Street Garden for Christmas Markets and Hogmanay celebrations, and their management by the private company Underbelly

Professor David McGillivray speaks at City ofr Sale event

Professor David McGillivray speaks at “City for Sale?” event

Professor David McGillivray speaks at City for Sale event

Professor David McGillivray speaks at “City for Sale?” event

The meeting was chaired by BBC broadcaster Stephen Jardine, with various presentations exploring the links between the design of events in public space and issues of sustainability, health and well-being, and common good land. One of the speakers was Prof. David McGillivray, CCSE’s Deputy Director and project leader of the FESTSPACE research project. Prof. McGillivray, in a presentation co-written with Dr Andrew Smith, University of Westminster, put the Edinburgh controversy in the context of a broader debate about privatization of public spaces. Talks were followed by a discussion with attendees, who expressed various concerns about the current management of events in Edinburgh’s public spaces, including the accessibility of public space during the event’s period, the lack of tangible legacy from Edinburgh festivals on the city’s infrastructure, and the necessity of finding a balance between the needs of tourists and residents. The outcomes of the discussion are being collated by the Cockburn Association who will use them to produce a response and plan of action that will be delivered to Edinburgh City Council.

Reports of the meeting can be accessed in the Herald and Edinburgh News. Twitter activity from the evening can be accessed by searching #cityforsale.


Conference Presentation in Lausanne…

In early January, CCSE’s Deputy Director, Professor David McGillivray, was invited to the Olympic capital, Lausanne, to present his work as part of an Event, Cities and Urbanism conference hosted by the University of Lausanne.

The conference was held alongside the Youth Winter Olympic Games which also took place in Lausanne earlier in the month. Along with his co-investigator, Dr Andrew Smith, from University of Westminster, David presented a paper titled “The Long Term Implications of Mega Events for the Provision of Accessible Public Space”. This paper draws on the research Prof McGillivray and Dr Smith have been conducting as part of the HERA-funded FESTSPACE project.

They argued that major and mega sport events act as Trojan Horses; introducing new conditions and policies to host destinations which endure long after the event has moved on. Secondly, they suggested that hosting major and mega events in urban public space normalises these as venues, leading to greater interest from event organisers and city authorities to use them in the future.

To follow our ongoing research into festivals, events and public space, follow us on twitter @festspace1 or via the project website.

Exciting News from Colombia!

Exciting News from Colombia!

CCSE’s Colombian PhD student and associate researcher, Greis Cifuentes has – at the age of 31 – been chosen as the new Development Director for the Fundación Nacional Batuta (FNB) in Colombia. Batuta has a presence in all 32 of the country’s administrative departamentos. FNB serves more than 38,000 children and young people from vulnerable populations providing first-rate musical training which focuses on collective practice from a perspective of social inclusion, rights and cultural diversity. Participation in FNB programmes provides an outlet for creative energies, distraction from challenges arising from surrounding societal difficulties and the constructive development of skills in music alongside complementary improvement of abilities in social engagement. Ultimately, involvement with FNB contributes to improved quality of life for its beneficiaries and their families.

To date, Greis’s professional and academic trajectory has been hugely impressive. Prior to her FNB appointment, she could already boast an outstanding career in the cultural and educational sector working in the public sector and international organisations such as the Fulbright Commission in Germany and Colombia, the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Colombian Consulate in New York.

Among the challenges of this new position, the diversification funding sources for the Foundation and expanding its coverage and the number of beneficiaries participating in FNB activities are priorities. In addition, in her new role, Greis will need to guarantee the continuity of Batuta’s most significant projects across the country.

Greis firmly believes in the transformative power of music and the methodology used by Batuta as a tool for strengthening social capital. The FNB’s pedagogical model promotes peaceful conflict resolution approaches among its beneficiary groups, utilising dialogue as a vital element of the effort to assist participants’ integral development and to strengthen the bonds between children taking part in FNB programmes; a process which, in turn, encourages them to expand their social networks.

Very many congratulations, Greis!

More information on FNB and the work undertaken can be found here:

Follow Greis on twitter here:

CCSE Newsletter Issue One Out Now!

The first issue of the CCSE newsletter is out now, available to download as a pdf below.

front cover CCSE newsletter

The newsletter features a review of the first year of Centre activities, an overview of research, development, consultancy and knowledge exchange activities aligned to our four themes and, information on the CCSE research community and Steering Group.

We hope you enjoy the first issue and we invite you to share it with your contacts.


Culture, Health and Social Change

Culture, Health and Social Change

This blog is a reblog of content originally posted at Voluntary Health Scotland

I joined Renfrewshire Council in late 2018 in the newly-created post of Paisley Partnership, Strategic Lead for Cultural Regeneration, having previously held culture-related roles with the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and a variety of other organisations. On 29th November 2019 I was invited to speak at the Faculty of Public Health annual Scottish Conference. The theme for the two days was social justice in public health. I was asked to talk about the role of arts and culture in health, wellbeing and social justice. Other speakers gave extraordinary accounts and inspiring talks on what is holding us back and what opportunities we have in terms of achieving more equality and equity in relation to health and wellbeing. The following is drawn from my speaking notes and makes the case for us to connect more and to have the confidence to be bold.

Culture, health and social change

It was a real honour to be invited to be part of the FPH conference. I think the worlds of public health and culture should mix more. When I was Head of Culture Strategy at the Scottish Government, health and wellbeing were an obvious focus in the development of the culture strategy. There are areas of outstanding practice across Scotland that bring together culture, health and wellbeing. I will highlight some here, but we do lag behind other countries in terms of developing an overarching, integrated culture and health policy approach. Voluntary Health Scotland, along with many others, are really seizing upon this and offering leadership with a view to us being more strategic. The Culture Strategy should be published soon.

It’s perhaps worth saying that when I use the world culture, I am broadly meaning it to refer to the arts, heritage, libraries, screen, creative industries and everyday creativity. I imagine that in public health terms it can refer to different things. I am going to cover a few things. First, in broad terms, the role of arts and culture in pursuing social justice. Then more about my current role in Paisley. Where we are building from the success of Paisley’s UK City of Culture bid process and developing, what we hope is, a radical and pioneering approach to cultural regeneration that is physical, social, economic and long-term.

So what role does culture, the arts and creativity have in social justice and health inequalities?

This is a huge area and covers a vast range. It can probably be summed up in the following ways:

1. Art and culture are a force for good in society and should be free to create, to reflect, refract and challenge. They bring joy, meaning and disruption – helping us all to think differently about the world and our experience of it, learning from our past, understanding the present and imagining alternative futures.
2. Many cultural projects, practice and approaches focus on inequalities and acknowledge disparities in power, voice and agency.
3. Every day artists and performers are working directly in health and care settings as of course is art therapy.
4. There are certain types of cultural activity that are focused on patient groups, a piece of the overall jigsaw in providing effective treatment.

And finally, the way that artists, designers and architects contribute to well places through the design of physical environments – health settings, housing, schools and public spaces – and to the design of services that improve our quality of life and our experiences of services. Design also communicates the value we give to the user of a building, space or service.

I won’t be able to do justice to this breadth so I will first focus on what culture does in the pursuit of social justice and what it can do to add value in terms of treatment. Before moving on to Paisley. I am an advocate for arts and culture, not an evangelist. There is no one answer to the multiple and complex health and inequality challenges that we face and that many, too many, are living with every day. Culture and creativity can add value to other disciplines and sectors and can help us to think differently about prevention in the long term.

Some examples from across sectors

The work of organisations like Glasgow based Vox Liminis re-imagines societal challenges like rehabilitation and reintegration by bringing people together to connect, communicate and have positive experiences. At a mental health conference, the Open Mind Summit, in October I heard more about their project KIN. In Scotland, it’s estimated that more young people are affected by the imprisonment of a parent every year than those affected by divorce. Each sentence impacts way beyond the prison walls with the stigma leading to young people feeling cut off from their families and often from wider society. KIN is a close knit arts collective of young people who have all experienced having a parent or sibling in prison. Turning stigma into solidarity, they have developed their own distinct artistic voice challenging labels given by society and reflecting their collective desire to not be defined by that experience alone.

With One Voice works across the UK and internationally to strengthen the arts and homelessness sector through exchanges in practice and policy. People who have experienced homelessness face challenges that are not just about housing. They can often suffer chronic social isolation, poor physical and mental health and lack of autonomy. With One Voice has developed a model based on a jigsaw to communicate the importance of the arts in the support of people who have experienced homelessness as part of Manchester City Council’s Homelessness Strategy. The Jigsaw attempts to address the hierarchical nature of support where the most urgent and practical need is addressed first. It sets out an alternative where multiple needs can be addressed by multiple solutions at the same time, including the arts to help develop confidence, self-expression, increase well-being and greater social inclusion.

Create London is a progressive organisation in the east end of London that focuses on social change and equality. One project called You Are What You Eat is with eleven-year olds from at a multi-ethnic school in Tottenham that is experiencing rapid urban development and where levels of childhood obesity are at a national high. Although titled You Are What you Eat the project is not about offering direction to people about what to eat when they are living in environments where the fast food culture dominates. Rather, the project uses film-making to empower children through self-representation, using imagination and storytelling to interrogate and explore how our food, our communities, our urban surroundings and our cultures create supportive environments for both our bodies and our health. Create also established Chicken Town, an alternative fried chicken bar developed with artists, chefs, architects and local schools. Where the chicken was reared on local urban farms and cooked well. Within a mile of the restaurant there are 34 fast food outlets offering cheap, calorific food that is accessible, affordable and for many young people a key part of their regular diet. In the context of increasing obesity, the project offered young people the opportunity to explore a healthier way of enjoying fast food and encouraged them to think about the origins of what they are eating

What is the impact of cultural participation and expression?

When I was working at the Scottish Government, many of the conversations that we were having centred on ideas around culture as both a human and community right where every citizen has a right to participate in culture of their choice and to express their own creativity. Culture can be a way for communities and residents to grow in confidence, to feel empowered and to influence the course of their own life rather than it being socially determined. Evidence from the Scottish Household Survey shows that people who participate in culture are more likely to report good health and life satisfaction than those who do not. It also shows those who engage in cultural activity in earlier years are more likely to participate and attend when they are adults.

Figures for engagement in culture are growing, but evidence shows that there are deep inequalities within this increasing engagement. Those living in poverty, people living with long-term physical or mental health conditions and those who do not have university degrees are not engaging in culture to the same extent as the larger population, as we currently measure it. Those living in poverty or on a low income often have less opportunity to engage in certain types of culture than their wealthier counterparts. This applies to cultural activities that although free to access include hidden costs like transport or food, and of course barriers aren’t just economic. It’s therefore vital that we create the conditions to enable people to access and engage in culture in their own communities, towns and city centres across a range of environments including schools, care and community centres from as early as possible, and for as long as possible.

Culture and creativity can help young people grow confidently as citizens. Creative learning fosters young people’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It can lead to positive learning experiences which can change the way young people feel about themselves, school and education and the aspirations they have. Of course, it’s not just young people who benefit through cultural participation. The benefits of taking part in creative activities as we grow and age are becoming increasingly clear, with positive impacts on health, wellbeing and on addressing isolation and loneliness. The Scotland wide Luminate festival celebrates the huge contribution that older people make to the cultural life of our country. The festival features projects that bring young and old together and presents work that explores what it means to all of us that society is ageing. An ageing population presents challenges: however, it also brings with it many advantages, and culture can help to challenge perceptions of age by celebrating age as a powerful dynamic in society.

Culture can support medical treatment

The 2017 Creative Health report published by Westminster’s All Party Parliamentary Committee on Arts, Health and Wellbeing makes a compelling case for the role that culture and creativity have in helping us to stay well longer, recover faster, manage longer term conditions better and have a better quality of life. From the perspective of Realistic Medicine all national strategies should consider health as a policy priority. Realistic Medicine states that as a society we are over medicating, that other avenues need to be explored and that there is evidence that arts and culture can contribute to this.

Again, there are so many examples that I could offer. The range of organisations working in arts and health is enormous. With many embedding their approaches to autism, dementia, Parkinson’s, mental health and inter- generational activity into their core programmes. And with some entirely focussed on health, like the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival that explores the relationship between creativity and the mind, and promotes positive mental health and wellbeing. Scottish Ballet and Dance Base’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme focuses on enabling those with Parkinson’s to experience the benefits of dance and creativity, improving balance, spatial awareness, confidence and movement. Scottish Opera’s Memory Spinners is a group that meets weekly in Airdire, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The group uses music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts, to help people with dementia and their carers to relax, be creative and form new support networks. The Cheyne Gang choir was started in Edinburgh by nurses with groups also now in the Borders and Glasgow’s east end. The choir explores the potential of whether singing techniques, including breath control, and the practice of singing can improve the wellbeing of those with debilitating breathing conditions.

Is there any evidence?

There are numerous reports and studies that evaluate the positive impacts of cultural activities on health and wellbeing. It is a complex area with great variation in what is being evaluated and there is a challenge in demonstrating a clear line of causality between intervention or activity and impact. This can be especially difficult with long term preventative approaches, but should that stop us trying? Perhaps the ways we research, evaluate and require evidence need to change to accommodate the potential of prevention. It is hard for us, as a sector, to demonstrate impact and causality. Looking at contribution to outcomes in the context of theory of change models may offer a way forward. As could giving the stories and qualitative evidence the same value as numbers.

In recent weeks WHO Europe published its scoping review What is the Evidence on the Role of the Arts in Improving Health and Wellbeing? The report helpfully synthesizes the global evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being. It’s clear in its message – results from over 3,000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, the promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across a lifespan. It goes further, noting that the beneficial impact of the arts could be furthered through acknowledging and acting on the growing evidence base; promoting arts engagement at the individual, local and national levels and supporting cross-sectoral collaboration across health, social care and cultural sectors. Examples cited range from the use of recorded music pre-surgery to calm patients, arts as an activity for people with dementia, social prescribing, and supporting the inclusion of arts and humanities education within the training of health-care professionals. Through to exploring where large-scale arts interventions can promote health and alter health behaviours at individual and community levels.

Sistema Scotland is perhaps an example from close to home of a long term intervention. Sistema aims to transform lives through music. The evaluation work aims to demonstrate the role that the arts can play in regeneration, grassroots positive social change, and improving the health and wellbeing of communities. Glasgow Centre for Population Health’s Sistema Scotland Evaluation Research Findings, and the effect on their communities, shows a range of positive outcomes from better school attendance to projected whole-life benefits for participants, such as greater community cohesion as well as economic gains over the medium and longer term. At the heart of all that Sistema does though are relationships, the relationship between a musician and a child, the child and an instrument, the child and an orchestra and the orchestra and the wider community. It will take years to truly understand the impact of this and that its perhaps through the development of relationships that often start with an individual that the most profound social change can occur.

So, to Paisley

Paisley is Scotland’s largest town, with a population of around 78,000 and with the second highest concentration of listed buildings in Scotland after Edinburgh. It’s a place of learning and training with the University of West of Scotland and West College Scotland both having major campus in the town. Some of the UK’s biggest engineering, technology and logistics companies are based there, close to Glasgow Airport. The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland is in Renfrewshire and has ambitions to be Scotland’s centre for advanced manufacturing.

Paisley was a small market town that transformed into one of the most productive towns in the world as an international textile producer. Giant mills, car plants, manufacturers and other industries employed thousands of people well into the 20th century. The workforce was skilled and renowned for its campaigning for social justice, fair employment and access to education and culture. By the mid-1990s the mills and car plants had shut, bringing unemployment, de-skilling, and disempowering communities. As well as changing the social, physical, economic and cultural landscape of the town and leaving a long-lasting legacy of systemic poverty in some neighbourhoods.

Today in Paisley, 34,000 live in deprivation and one in three children live in poverty. 10% of Paisley’s population live in the 5% most deprived communities in Scotland. Health inequality is a major issue – 72% of the population live in areas with a higher than average number of emergency stays in hospital. There are high levels of prescribed drugs for depression and anxiety, especially amongst younger people. There were 50 drug-related deaths in Renfrewshire in 2018: this was the largest number recorded in the past decade and the number of alcohol-related deaths in Renfrewshire in 2018 reached 50. We have set up an Alcohol and Drugs Commission to approach the challenges in a different way and to explore new ways of tackling the issue for individuals and families affected in the short and long term.

The work I am leading is called Future Paisley. As I mentioned, it builds from the success of the UK City of Culture bid process that Paisley took part in in 2017. The bid journey built confidence in the town and envisioned new possibilities for Paisley’s future. There is now a clear sense of optimism and momentum for change across communities and partners. The approach is underpinned by a partnership of local, Scottish and UK partners to harness the power of culture to generate greater equality of opportunity. In taking a broad view, our approach promotes cultural regeneration as a means of effecting economic, environmental and social change, when it is integrated as part of a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach involving different views, areas of expertise and perspectives working together.

What we are doing?

The approach is underpinned by an investment of over £100 million from Renfrewshire Council and partners that runs from 2018 until the end of 2022. Six step changes act as outcomes, guiding all activity and providing a structure that evaluation and research will be grounded in.

Establish Paisley as a centre of excellence for cultural regeneration through leadership, partnership, participation and collaboration
Lift Paisley’s communities out of poverty
Paisley will be recognised for its cultural excellence
Transform Paisley into a vibrant cultural town centre
Grow a significant new dimension to Paisley’s economy
Radically change Paisley’s image and reputation in Scotland, the UK and internationally

Under each of these step changes is a range of activity.

Establish Paisley as a centre of excellence for cultural regeneration through leadership, partnership, participation and collaboration

In March 2019 we established the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events (CCSE) as a new research centre in Paisley. It’s a partnership between the University of the West of Scotland and Renfrewshire Council. It’s working to ensure that research and evaluation are fundamental and embedded parts of the Future Paisley Partnership’s overall approach.

As part of the centre we have three fully funded PhDs focussed on:

Culture, media and the transformation of place impressions – is everything we are doing changing people’s perceptions of the town internally and externally and making any difference? Paisley is often seen as poster town for poverty and retail decline
Poverty, Health and Action Research in Cultural Regeneration – exploring the relationship between culture and the systems and structures that keep people in poverty
Direct and indirect contribution of developing creative industries, cultural sector and events as a core of Paisley’s inclusive economy; are we creating economic opportunities for all?

Lift communities out of poverty

This step change will have no doubt caught your attention. It is the most audacious by far and the toughest for us to achieve – its audacity though has been a rallying call for partners to come together to address inequality in Paisley. In time, we will also reflect on the language and tone of this step change to ensure that it isn’t reinforcing unhelpful narratives.

At the heart of this outcome is the Art, Culture, Health and Social Care Network. The network is both strategic and operational – it’d supporting the embedding of arts, culture and creativity within the Health & Social Care Partnership. The programme ranges from Community Connectors to art in hospital, a cultural buddies’ scheme, a significant focus on creativity and young people’s mental health, and a Young Producers development programme with the care system, as well as supporting Social and Cultural prescribing in deep end GP practices.

Education and learning are also a priority. Renfrewshire is one of nine ‘challenge authorities’ in the Scottish Attainment Challenge, aiming to close the attainment gap between those living in Scotland’s least and most deprived areas. In early 2019, Education Scotland published its inspection report finding significant year-on-year improvements in listening, talking, reading, writing and numeracy, with the attainment gap closing across all measures. Part of our approach is a huge focus on creativity in terms of how literacy and numeracy are taught, with music part of everyday school life for every pupil. As well as this we are developing creative partnerships with schools.

Castlehead School of Creativity is in a 10 year partnership with Glasgow School of Art. The partnership aims to develop creative, confident and curious young people. Castlehead High School feeds from Ferguslie Park. At Castlehead High School creativity is at the heart of the school and the potential and aspirations of each young person is valued. With Glasgow School of Art, studio-based teaching and learning techniques are applied and integrated across many disciplines to encourage innovative thinking, increase attainment and to develop skills needed to thrive both in the world of work and in broader society. Pupils from S1 up experience a range of subjects and specialisms through trips to the art school and art school staff support in service training at the school as well as pupils having access to GSA portfolio classes. This partnership is about more than building aspiration, its also about opening up economic opportunities and reimagining education.

There are some very visible physical changes underway in the town. With the transformation of major cultural venues framed by a reimagining of the High Street as a cultural, social, civic and economic gathering place, we are preparing a post retail town centre.


Although, cultural regeneration in Paisley is about much more than buildings, the transformation of the museum, opening a High Street Museum Store, renovating the town hall and designing a new central library at the heart of the High Street are important emblems of change and hope for Paisley and Renfrewshire. They illustrate the value that we are giving to culture as a fundamental part of a place and of a person’s life. Our understanding of culture extends beyond formal venues into what happens on streets, in squares, in homes, nurseries, schools, hospitals, care settings, in neighbourhoods and in the workplace.

There isn’t any one solution or thing that will make Scotland more socially just. Culture and creativity can add value, open up new possibilities, new relationships and they can give a person, a community, a sense of their own agency and value so that they have hope, experience joy and have the confidence to determine their own future. We saw that in Paisley with the bid. As well as this, culture can shift our gaze and offer ways to scrutinize the systems and structures that exist that often reinforce the inequalities we are all trying to address. In Paisley, we value culture and creativity not as ornamental but as a fundamental – not only in offering positive experiences throughout life, no matter who we are or where we are from. But because they can also encourage us to go further – to imagine what a better society could be and what ideas, system, structural and attitude changes, can get us there.

Sport & Sport Diplomacy: Save the Dream

Sport & Sport Diplomacy: Save the Dream

On the 6th and 7th of April 2019, the sports diplomacy organisation Save the Dream, organised the International Youth Forum ‘When Sport Breaks Down Walls.’ Save the Dream implements and promotes activities to empower youth through safe access to sport and to its educational and social values. Held in Berlin, the forum coincided with the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace and was an important step in promoting the use of sport for youth leaders as a tool of public diplomacy. It kicked-off a global campaign to raise awareness on the importance of using all possible peaceful means to break down walls which still exist today.

The Forum gathered eighty youth leaders from around the world and the messages conveyed during the event reached a global audience of more than 713,000 people. Those in attendance took part in the White Card Campaign (an online campaign organised by Peace and Sport that raises awareness for peace through sports) and the youth leaders worked together to produce a Final Declaration, that all attendees pledged to promote and to further support.

A report was published on November 9, 2019 marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall and reflecting on the outcomes of the International Youth Forum. In reading the report, it is clear that there remains a lot to be done, but it also offers a strong reminder of the achievements which are possible when working together. It echoes a positive message of unity within society, while focusing on the power of sport to inspire and empower people across nations, regardless of faith and socio-economic condition.

Memorialisation, Heritage & Funding at Fort Jesus, Mombasa

Memorialisation, Heritage & Funding at Fort Jesus, Mombasa

As part of the delivery of  cultural heritage training workshops that took place in Mombasa, Kenya from 12-16 November 2019 – as part of the British Council funded Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth project – Drs Stephen Collins and Allan Moore took a trip to Fort Jesus with colleagues from Mount Kenya University and workshop participants .

Built on the orders of the Portuguese between 1593 and 1596, Fort Jesus was taken over by Omani Arabs in 1698 and then the British in 1895. In 1631, the fort briefly fell under the control of the Sultan Yusuf ibn al-Hasan of Mombasa. Under the British, the site was used as a prison. Subsequently, the fort was declared a historical monument in 1958 and given UNESCO World Heritage status in 2011. Thus, as a site, it has had a colourful and contested history.

The purpose of the trip was to consider the UNESCO world heritage site, and Mombasa’s dominant monument, in terms of what had been discussed in the preceding workshops. Participants were invited to consider the site in terms of formal and informal uses of the space, who had the right to use the space, how heritage was foregrounded or promoted and what kinds of narratives were evident.

The following day, the conversation in which we reflected on these themes with reference to the fort was one of the highlights of the week. Curated by Dr Moore, participants identified several areas that they now felt were questionable in terms of how the space was presented. For example, they identified that there was very little mention of the local community in any of the displays, instead it was as though the fort had simply been a site of chronological occupation by foreign powers with no connection to the people living and working outside the gates.

Dr Stephen Collins speaking at the Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth workshop

Secondly, they identified that in the section recently renovated by a grant from the Oman government, there was a series of mannequins in traditional Omani dress. In spite of the presence of the mannequins, there was no critical information of the role that Omani Arabs played in the Arabic slave trade or the lives of the indigenous population. In fact, there was no mention of the role of the fort in slavery at all.

Similarly, the British presence, which lasted over several decades, was characterised as being administratively and scientifically progressive, rather than part of a theatre of imperial power.

As we left, we spotted a large group of school children arriving to view the site for themselves; they ran around the large expanses of grass and clambered over the crumbling walls. Over the following week, we pondered large questions concerning how funding has implications for which stories are told, how uncomfortable stories are passed down and whether or not historical sites need to have their history sanitised in order to be accessible.

CCSE Seminar Series Details Announced!

The CCSE PhD research student team are delighted to announce the details of the first CCSE Seminar series! The CCSE will host three lunchtime seminars across January and February 2020. We have invited researchers and professionals to deliver presentations across on topics relevant to the work of the Centre. Each session will feature two 15 minute presentations, with 25 minutes for Q+A.

The line-up is as follows:

Date Theme Speakers
15th January  

Arts, Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy


Prof Gayle McPherson and Dr Allan Moore, Oluwaseyi Aina
29th January Sport, Cultural Events and Festivals  

Dr Carlton Brick, Solomon IIevbare


26th February  

Place-Focused Cultural Regeneration


Dr Clare Edwards, Conor Wilson


All sessions will take place at UWS Paisley Campus in room J211 unless stated otherwise. Everyone is welcome, so bring your lunch down and hear about some of the fascinating research taking place within the CCSE, across the university and beyond!

If you have any requirements or questions please contact

All seminars will take place from 1-2pm

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21st Century Researcher Skills- Twitter Conferences

21st Century Researcher Skills- Twitter Conferences

Many of us use social media to communicate with other likeminded academics and practitioners, and attending conferences and giving presentations is a key part of what we do, but what happens when you combine the two? A Twitter Conference! As an early career researcher I am always keen to keep up to date with current events in my field, and explore avenues which help my research, practice and teaching. When the opportunity to “attend” and “present” at a virtual conference arose, I wanted to submit an abstract and explore how it worked.

My abstract for the Public Archaeology Twitter Conference (#PATC4) is related to a project which I had undertaken in my practitioner role, as part of a project with PAS and Historic Environment Scotland (HES).  I worked with Dr Antonia Thomas at the University of the Highlands and Islands on a project exploring heritage crime with young people, as part of a national pilot which PAS had been commissioned to deliver on behalf of HES, connected to the launch of a national crime initiative. Orkney was one of the pilot locations I set up; working with Stromness Academy I devised a day of practical fieldwork visiting archaeological sites on the Orkney Mainland (working with Antonia to find suitable sites), and a day of in class reflection for co-designing resources relating to heritage crime. The site visits allowed the pupils to have an insight into archaeological recording techniques, and walk through a town which was familiar to them to explore it with a “heritage eye” as a town planner or heritage professional might view a space. Graffiti has long existed on Orkney archaeological sites in many forms, but caring for the sites for the future means engaging younger audiences and new audiences with the heritage management issues around that. As the project was a pilot, we were able to experiment with different workshop styles and teaching techniques, allowing the pupils to record themselves (and their findings) using digital kit as part of the reflective activities.. on day two they created amazing resources such as posters, games and presentation for different audiences including their peers, heritage professionals, primary school pupils and even cruise ship passengers.

We had up to 15 Tweets to convey our message around this project, and share an insight into our findings but for academics who are used to being a little more wordy in our communication, how did we manage that?

Our method:
• Write down our key messages, then edit these down (again, if needed!)
• Take off a few Tweets for introduction, bio’s and conclusion, see how many are left
• Split the Tweets into two as we were co-authoring the paper, and write each part then share our drafts in word
• Ensure we had interesting visual content to accompany our paper (note, we had photographic consent forms from those who appear in the images- especially important when working with young people)
• Tag people in on conversations using their Twitter handle to help with engagement
• Programme Tweets in advance using Tweetdeck, to avoid quickly having to type paper content within the allocated presentation time window
• Remember to include the conference hashtag in each post

Twitter Conference Moment

Twitter Conference Moment- screenshot extract of paper


Things I learned:
• Staying in touch with the conference organisers, and following their helpful instructions is essential (#PATC4 has a wordpress blog with information on the background of Twitter conferences)
• Composing Tweets in advance helped make a cohesive discussion and ensure we had included key points
• Tweetdeck cannot make threaded Tweets, compiling Tweets into a Twitter moment afterwards is another way to archive discussions
• One person has to Tweet on behalf of everyone presenting a joint conference paper where you require sequential numbered Tweets, but you can make it clear who says what through your text annotation
• Programme in time to respond to comments on your paper, (just like at any conference it is likely people will have questions)
• Allow yourself time to view other presentations too (especially those which relate to your conference sub theme)
• Taking part in a Twitter conference is a lot of fun! #PATC4 even had a musical accompaniment to its papers, there was a DJ and playlist who joined in – #PATC4Jams

Simplifying a paper into Tweet form certainly helps focus your mind, it is a very different format from more longform writing. It has to be eye catching and to the point, but also represent your argument and project appropriately. I have previously participated in “newer” forms of academic engagement (lightning talks, research slams, Pecha Kucha, PubPhD, Three Minute Thesis) and I feel that Twitter conferences definitely have their place alongside these and more traditional forms of presentation like posters, journal articles and in person conference presentations. Being able to communicate your research and academic interests in more than one form definitely helps the skillset of academics at any stage of their career, and the use of these techniques is also opening up a debate about democratising conferences (Twitter has no travel costs and you can either participate live, or catch up at a later time by working remotely at a time which suits you). I would highly recommend submitting a paper to a Twitter conference if you have the opportunity!

Find out more about the Public Archaeology Twitter Conference (#PATC4) 
View Alison and Antonia’s paper as a Twitter moment at
Follow Alison @CrenellatedArts on Twitter
Follow Antonia @Assemlagiste on Twitter