Paisley is Scotland’s largest town with an impressive cultural and economic history. It was once the centre of the UK thread trade and developed the famous Paisley pattern from an original Kashmiri design. But in recent years it has struggled to overcome the impact of recession and economic decline.
In 2016 the ambitious and visionary Renfrew Council , who oversee the town, decided to bid to become UK City of Culture 2020/21. This is a UK Government scheme designed to highlight the cultural and economic potential in one city or large town every four years. At the same time the council also decided to make a major investment in the town’s museum and create a major sustainable tourist attraction. =mc designed the strategy.
Running one major campaign is not easy. Running two in parallel is tough, especially when they are both ambitious but require different approaches. While the Council was happy to provide significant support there was need to attract a range of private contributions from foundations, individuals and companies. The scale of the projects meant that we had to attract support not just in Scotland, but nationally throughout the UK and even internationally. There was pressure, especially from the City of Culture campaign, to support the bid in an 18 month window.
The twin-project approach meant the =mc team had to work with two linked campaigns to attract over £30M of external investment to make both projects realisable.
A bid team was set up to lead the City of Culture project and a separate Museum team to support the museum campaign initiative. =mc consulting was hired to work with both teams over a period of 18 months.
=mc consulting worked intensively with a wide range of stakeholders. These were both inside the council –for example, departments and managers responsible for communications, economic development and culture; and externally– trusts and foundations, national and local and international businesses, and Scottish Government representatives. These consultations were designed to explore the potential to achieve these two remarkable and ambitious projects.
The project was wide-ranging:
As in so many other complex high value projects there was a need for more than strategy. We worked:
The Paisley team presented an impressive proposal to the government committee who decided the City of Culture Award. But such appointments are, in the end, political, so despite an outstanding bid the award went to Coventry, itself a worthy winner.
But the good news is that the ambitions for the City of Culture project fired up a whole range of culture projects in the town — projects that have led to a real resurgence in pride and economic payoff. You can find out more about the long-term impact building on the appeal here.
The council also decided to progress the museum project since that was in their gift. Helped by =mc they hired a campaign team to deliver the strategy. As a result the reimagined Paisley Museum, incorporating the very latest in engagement and learning packages, will open in 2022. The total cost will be almost £45M.
=mc consulting has worked with a number of agencies delivering major cultural development projects in the UK and internationally. In the UK these include Blackpool Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and the Charles Dickens Museum. Internationally we’re delighted to count MEF Museum in Argentina, Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City and the Zimbabwe Natural History Museum among our customers.