Art & Soul of Paisley – ‘Get on yer feet, use yer voice, get the colour markers out!’

Art & Soul of Paisley – ‘Get on yer feet, use yer voice, get the colour markers out!’

Back in February (admittedly, a time that now feels but a distant memory), the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events, Renfrewshire Council and STAR Project came together to ask the Paisley community what culture meant to them. Despite the appaling weather, our community members attended en masse to tell us exactly what it meant to them.

While opinions and views were collected throughout the event, our community members decided that they wanted to host a workshop and write a blog to capture their thoughts and feelings about Art & Soul of Paisley a couple of weeks later. In true STAR style – they asked, we did.

The group consisted of 8 community members, all eager to share their thoughts on the event. We started talking about our general feelings about what had happened on that rainy afternoon in February. Everyone agreed they had had a great time, listening to the upbeat tunes of the Well Happy Band, eating delicious food from Redss Catering, dodging the numerous photographs/graphics being captured but, most of all, people loved having their voices heard.

Our community are a cultural bunch, prior to the event they already felt like they knew a lot about the subject. Some told us the event was a useful platform for bringing together all of the incredible things happening in Renfrewshire and really reflecting on how these things benefited them.

Photo credit: Willie Kay

Highlights of the event, from our community’s perspective, included the happy atmosphere and the community spirit. They were proud of the number of people who turned up with the soul (see what I did there?) purpose of coming together to talk about things that mattered to the community. One community member told us “it felt like we were the experts telling people what we know and what is needed. They genuinely listened; they were interested – I loved every minute of teaching people how important it is to create your own culture within your community. More please!”

Community members agreed that the participatory and accessible nature of the event kept them engaged throughout. “It wasn’t sitting around, death by PowerPoint and being talked at by a guy in a grey suit. It was – get on yer feet, use yer voice, get the colour markers out.” Others felt having children there was a highlight. They acknowledged that, while the kids were loud, on a ‘sugar high’ and interrupted a few of the activities, having them there made the event seem more ‘community led.’

As a result of the event our community members felt heard, empowered and included. Many stated that being involved at such an early stage of the project made them want to know more, want to follow the progress of the work as it progressed; to help support it in any way they can. “I knew, the moment I got there, it wasn’t a tick box thing. Not a ‘yeah, yeah, tell us what you think, and we’ll do our own thing anyway.’ No, it felt like ‘we’re not doing anything until you’ve told us what to do.’ It wasn’t an event done for us; it was with us.”

Our community felt there were few to no barriers to them engaging with the event- although everyone agreed that the weather could have been better – we assured them we would look into it!

Finally, community members decided to each come up with one word to sum up Art & Soul of Paisley: Togetherness; Community; Creative; Participation; Inspired; Happy; Spirit; Surprising; Empowered. That the community members chose these words to describe the event, demonstrates that the potential to positively and meaningfully engage the community in the cultural regeneration process is already well underway.

Green Tease Paisley; No Longer Business As Usual

Green Tease Paisley; No Longer Business As Usual

Last week I attended Paisley’s first Green Tease event hosted by Creative Carbon Scotland. Sometimes it’s easy to lose momentum when it comes to environmental issues, especially when you feel like you are the only person who cares. It’s so important to have events like this, hearing everyone explain in such practical terms, the amazing work they are doing to help tackle climate breakdown was inspiring. Suddenly, it’s not only me. I am part of something much bigger which can have a deeper impact due to all of the support surrounding it.

Heather Claridge from Architecture and Design Scotland told us how it simply cannot be business as usual anymore. Heather walked us through the beautiful projects she has been a part of; working with communities, artists and the council. These projects look at ways in which Heather, an urban planner, could break down the barrier between citizens and environment. She is committed to finding playful, creative, effective ways of changing our understanding towards our environment, you can read more about it here.

“COP21_151208b-0419” by TheNoxid is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The event was a perfect example of using culture to influence climate justice. Proving that culture and cultural organisations can have a very significant impact on our environmental health.

Further contributing to this point were The Glasgow Women’s Library, Scottish Ensemble and Remode. During a panel discussion each organisation talked us through the incredible, practical work they are doing to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.

Yes, some of these decisions are difficult and sacrifices will have to be made; but it shows the true commitment and the understanding that these issues are bigger than business. Organisations such as these don’t place capitalism and money at the heart of their practices. These groups are showing that culture and climate can work hand in hand. As Heather said, it can’t just be business as usual. We all need to make these difficult decisions and commit ourselves to achieving climate justice.

You can read the GWL environmental policy here, Scottish Ensemble here, and you can read about Remode’s amazing work here.

Paisley was well suited to hosting this event. With so many major buildings closing and the huge shift the town is experiencing right now, business is anything but usual. Things are changing, the town is learning how to be adaptable and resilient over the course of this exciting period. It only makes sense that the environment and climate breakdown is a huge part of these conversations. Big things are happening in Paisley, hopefully this event will help further influence people’s attitudes towards organisations effects on the environment.

It cannot be business as usual anymore.

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.

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.

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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