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It’s a red letter day for Paisley as Outspoken Arts Scotland, a cultural leader in equalities, announce £72k investment in Paisley and Renfrewshire arts and cultural sector. The organisation has won grants from two national funders: Creative Scotland and National Lottery Awards for All Scotland and has received local funding from Invest in Renfrewshire and the Longstone Trust.

Outspoken Arts Scotland is the first professional arts organisation locating into Renfrewshire to be funded by Creative Scotland, to deliver a year-long programme that builds on the work already carried out on the Paisley 2021 bid.

Recently relocated from Glasgow, Outspoken Arts Scotland is now based at the Sir James Clark Building, at Abbeymill Business Centre. Led by Paisley buddie, Steven Thomson, an award winning creative director and former producer of the Glasgay! Festival from 2004-2014, the organisation has made the bold move to secure a key role in the legacy of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. Steven Thomson worked closely with Renfrewshire Council, seconded as a Creative Producer, alongside his long-standing colleague Jean Cameron, Bid Director. Despite Paisley not winning the title, their tenure has secured a £4m investment in arts programming for Renfrewshire, resulting in a positive step change for the reputation of Paisley as a cultural destination.

Steven Thomson, Director, Outspoken Arts, commented: “I’m truly delighted to be working across Scotland and giving my hometown the much love and attention it deserves. Paisley is a special place for culture and its people and their stories nourish us in going forward. I could not have done this without the support of some amazing colleagues, particularly fellow buddie Jean Cameron, former Paisley 2021 bid Director, to whom I’m enormously grateful. Keep your eye on Paisley! We will.”

Outspoken Arts Scotland works with artists and communities who share the protected characteristics, those being: age, sex and sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, faith, marriage and civil partnership, maternity and pregnancy. The team is made up of Paisley residents, led by Steven Thomson, Creative Director, who has had a long career in the arts notably working at The Tron, King’s and Mitchell Theatres, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (now RCS), New Moves and also with Bill Bryden on The Big Picnic. Supporting him are Alphonso Harrison, engagement manager, who hails from Virginia, USA and has lived and worked in the UK for over 20 years; Lisa Watt, marketing manager, who has worked for The Mackintosh Festival and Merchant City Festival; and Gillian Lochhead, marketing officer, a recent Glasgow School of Art graduate and resident of Johnstone. Gillian’s post, a graduate internship, has been funded by Invest in Renfrewshire.

The Company has an exciting programme of engagement rolling out over the next year, beginning with creative development workshops with over a dozen organisations. Those partners are as follows:

• Renfrewshire Leisure – 21 Thread Street – a major exhibition on industrial weaving.
• Bogha-Fhrois – LGBT voices in folk music
• Create Paisley – a faith/youth multi-disciplinary arts project in Paisley.
• DEAR Group – a Renfrewshire networking group focussing on equality diversity.
• Erskine Music & Media Studios – an award winning youth music/media group in Bargarran, Erskine
• Feral Arts – Professional arts producers formerly of The Arches.
• H-Arts – Paisley based writer/director and community participants/vulnerable people.
• In-Motion Theatre Co. – working on Voices of Ferguslie a community drama/documentary.
• PACE Youth Theatre – collaborating on a new youth arts festival for Paisley.
• Queer Times 2019 – a major exhibition and fringe programme highlighting LGBT history since 1969 and decriminalisation.
• Renfrewshire Council THCAR2 Regeneration – arts project focussing on social & built heritage.
• Paisley Arts Centre – developing new drama, workshops and artists’ residencies.
• ROAR Connections for Life – working with older people and vulnerable adults.
• Star Project – working with poorer families and children in an area of high deprivation.
• Take Me Somewhere – Scotland newest festival of contemporary performance and live art.
• Paisley Thread Mill Museum – a visitor attraction showcasing Paisley’s historic thread-making industry.

Milica Milosevic, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion at Creative Scotland, commented:
“The energy and enthusiasm generated through the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid has left a lasting legacy in the area with new opportunities being created as a direct result of the bid. We are pleased to support the artistic programme of Outspoken Arts, their varied programme has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of many people in the area.”

A National Lottery Awards for All Scotland spokesperson, said: “One of the aims of this small grants programme is to bring people together building strong relationships across communities. We are delighted to have been able to support Outspoken Arts with an award of £9,800 to develop a diverse cultural programme working alongside a wide range of Renfrewshire-based community and art sector organisations.”

Councillor Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “We are pleased to have helped fund an internship for Outspoken Arts through the Council’s Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which has in recent years seen Renfrewshire go from having one of Scotland’s worst youth employment rates to its third best. Our ambition is to transform Renfrewshire’s future using the power of our internationally-significant cultural and heritage story – that approach is already delivering results, and we will build on those further in the years ahead. Key to that is in working with the independent cultural sector to help make the area a key destination within Scotland, and a place where people can experience world-class culture and all the opportunity that creates right here on their doorstep. The programme Outspoken Arts are planning will open up those benefits to many of our less-heard communities, and the partnerships they are building will help showcase many of the local creative organisations already delivering excellent work here.”

Opportunities
The company will be offering a number of creative opportunities to participate in its work and wants to hear from participants from any background and any community who are looking for a chance to get involved in the arts.   mailto:steventhomson@outspokenarts.org

 

FERAL ARTS
ERSKINE MUSIC & MEDIA STUDIO