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1.1.2 Paisley: context

Paisley is located less than 10 miles from the city of Glasgow in the West of Scotland, and is the administrative centre of Renfrewshire. The local authority plan states that “Renfrewshire is the 10th biggest local authority area in Scotland” (Renfrewshire Council, 2017, p.4) yet the town which Paisley has the most similar issues to is actually the City of Dundee, due to its socio-economic and demographic conditions (Understanding Scottish Places, 2017). These socio-economic issues have led to one area of Renfrewshire within the Paisley urban boundary to “consistently feature within the 5% most deprived areas... from 2004” (Scottish Government, 2016, p.10), Ferguslie Park has been identified as being one of the most deprived areas in Scotland yet Renfrewshire district has been improving and contains a number of wards which are located in the least deprived of Scotland, for example Paisley South and Howood (Scottish Government, 2016) and Renfrewshire as a whole has been ranked among the top 10 places of the UK for quality of life (Renfrewshire 24, 2015). These demographic differences between areas mean that Paisley forms a useful case study for cultural mapping as it has a microcosm of issues across the socio-economic, environmental and cultural fields, particularly important when cultural policy is moving towards sustainable development by harnessing culture as a crucial domain (CHCfE Consortium, 2015). The Community Planning documentation for Renfrewshire includes aims regarding cultural asset management, arguing that local people should “have the capacity and resources to lead projects and be involved in service delivery.. (and) have the capacity, enthusiasm and right to try the management of local assets” (Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership, 2013, p.46). Similarly, the Tackling Poverty report (whilst not primarily focused on culture) advocates power sharing as particularly important in anti-poverty practice (Renfrewshire Council, 2014b).


Paisley is classed as an “Interdependent to Independent town … (which are those which) have a good number of assets in relation to their population” (Understanding Scottish Places, 2017). Assets within this context does not just mean cultural assets, but this external

recognition is a useful point which recognises that Paisley is well served by different services, which in turn may form cultural assets depending on their context. The presence of a large number of designated historic assets (the “second highest concentration... in Scotland”, outside Edinburgh (Renfrewshire Council, 2017, p.4)) means that there is a wealth of assets to map, and test within a digital cultural asset mapping context, and therefore it is essential that any cultural map aims to reflect the diverse range of activities which take place and the nature of the communities which exist.


Cultural asset mapping has been shown to be a successful tool for presenting spatial data sets and spreading awareness of assets, notably within a Canadian context (Jeannotte, 2016) and within European contexts for heritage, where it is classed as a “qualitative, participatory method” (CHCfE Consortium, 2015, p.105). Cultural asset mapping within the context of a City of Culture bid thus offered a valuable opportunity to research and present information on the presence of assets, whilst also contributing to a larger conversation around what culture means in the area; such creative approaches to community engagement unlock the potential to greater involvement in cultural activity, both in defining culturally significant assets, and in recognising previously hidden stories of cultural relevance to the character of the area, particularly when there is a renewed focus with a town centre asset strategy and action

plan, subtitled ‘Paisley the Untold Story’ (Renfrewshire Council, 2014a). This strategy engages with idea of ‘hidden’ heritage, which garners much attention in the cultural heritage literature, yet without further research as tested and carried out within this practice-based PhD, there is not a method of beginning to systematically record and document these untold stories or assets.


 

1.2 Key Terms and Definitions