The passage of time has been a somewhat strange – or at least, stranger – thing to experience in 2020 than is usually the case. It is nevertheless heartening to look back over the academic year through the lens of the posts that we’ve been able to publish on the CCSE blog.

The emergence of the COVID19 virus and the impact that this has wrought globally, nationally and locally has hugely affected lives and dominated news cycles. Naturally, the pandemic has also featured regularly on this site in the insights, opinions and discussions that we have posted here.

Though the ‘old’ normal of autumn 2019 might currently seem a particularly distant in memory, a look back through our archive is as a positive reminder of the work we were doing in CCSE and, the activity that our wider community network, Future Paisley partners, doctoral research students and university colleagues were – and are – engaged in.

At the beginning of the year, doctoral researcher, Greis Cifuentes, told us of the street library she had set up in Colombia. Dr Stephen Collins posted on his involvement in a project investigating modern slavery in James Town, Ghana and Prof David McGillivray was in Gdansk attending the initial conference for his HERA funded FESTSPACE project alongside post doc researcher, Dr Séverin Guillard, and colleagues from the wider project consortium.

Closer to home, colleagues from CCSE and Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Leisure and others spent an enlightening day touring Glasgow’s East End hearing about the experience of cultural regeneration undertaken there from the viewpoints of a range of community stakeholders.

Our doctoral research students penned insights into their own, ongoing research activities. Niclas Hell bravely ventured out on Halloween for work purposes. Aliena Haig updated us on her research activity, Thorsten Brønholt talked tech companies and Irene Warner-Macintosh gave insight into her work on digital equality. Doctoral students Conor Wilson, Lan Pham and Niclas Hell organised their own lunchtime seminar series. We heard something of the community based cultural activity supported though Council channels. Colleagues at Future Paisley and in our network of community stakeholders and collaborators, provided updates on their wider activity; conferencing on culture, health and social change, arguing for the fundamental importance of creativity for learning and reporting on the busy schedule of local events including Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Tease and the hugely successful first edition of the Paisley Book Festival!  It is, of course, worth a mention that we also published the inaugural edition of the CCSE newsletter too.

Across the Centre, research and dissemination activity continued apace, colleagues involved in the FESTSPACE project participated in a packed public meeting where the controversy surrounding the use of Edinburgh’s public spaces was hotly debated. Drs Stephen Collins and Allan Moore travelled to Kenya as part of our British Council Funded ‘Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth’ project, delivered in collaboration with colleagues at Mount Kenya University. Not to be outdone in the globetrotting stakes, Professors David McGillivray and Gayle McPherson visited Japan as contributors to the Tokyo Policy Forum on the Paralympics and Social Change. (Prof McPherson also attended a knowledge sharing workshop hosted by EUNIC and the British Council in Cyprus).

We hosted the first workshop in our UKRI funded project – a collaboration with the marvellous STAR Project and (equally lovely) Future Paisley colleagues – discussing issues around improving community wellbeing and prosperity through culture. The workshop was so much fun that we made a short film and, Paisley community members who took part co-authored their own blog.

Speaking of film, Dr Stephen Collins made his own; James Town and Slavery’ was an official selection for the Changing the Story Online International Film Festival. It premiered online in June 2020.

The first half of the 2019-2020 session was eventful and varied, CCSE activity spanned the local, national and international and we were busily making plans for the rest of the year.