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! https://www.instagram.com/psoa1838/
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.
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.
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:
Arts, Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy
Prof Gayle McPherson and Dr Allan Moore, Oluwaseyi Aina
Sport, Cultural Events and Festivals
Dr Carlton Brick, Solomon IIevbare
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!
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?
• 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- 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!
The weeks from late October until mid-December always seem to be some of the most hectic of the year, and this is especially true for researchers looking at events like myself. My PhD projects aims at understanding the social and economic impacts of the Paisley urban regeneration programmes. One of the flagships of this investment scheme is the public events programme, and that is thus one of the major cases studied. In a period of only five weeks in duration, four big events are on in Paisley:
The Spree festival,
The Halloween festival,
The Paisley Fireworks extravaganza, and
the Christmas lights switch on.
Halloween is by far the biggest event. 41,000 people (in a town with – generously speaking – some 74,000 inhabitants) participate in a two-day celebration spread out all over town. This also means researchers and consultants administer questionnaires and interviews. My questionnaire revolves around the willingness-to-pay on the demand side, and perceived impact on the supply side.
Measuring willingness to pay for a service which is free of charge indicates the worth of the service provided. Adding this up with travel costs, shopping, and sometimes other costs, shows us what people are willing to spend to experience a night out in Paisley. In this case, a large majority thought that it was important that the event programme was mainly free, but they would still have come if there had been a fee: the fun fair, the only part of the programme where more or less everything had an entrance fee, was the place where most people asked for an increase of the available programme.
Though the demand-side of the survey is arguably the most important, earlier evaluations did not ask local shopkeepers’ opinions (though there are other ways to measure that, such as dialogue with the opinions of the local Business Improvement District). Understanding whether, and which, businesses benefit from the events programme brings an important piece of information to understanding the economic impact on the area. Interestingly, most of the shopkeepers who stated that their business suffered as a result of the closed roads and crowded streets rather than gained from it, said that they still wholeheartedly supported the event programme as such, as it brought life to the town.
The Halloween festival attracts people from all over Scotland, and earlier evaluations show that around 40 % of visitors come from outside of Renfrewshire. In the coming weeks, there will be two events attracting a predominantly ‘Renfrewshirian’ crowd. Performing the same survey with these participants and shopkeepers at smaller, more local events provides an interesting insight in how hosting the sheer volume of 41,000 people affects the community. Is being a big event venue the road forward for Paisley?