Renfrewshire Council

Council leader asked to speak at international regeneration event

Renfrewshire's Council Leader has a chance to fly the flag for Paisley's bid for UK of Culture 2021 after being asked to take centre stage at a global event focused on local economic development.

Councillor Mark Macmillan has been invited to address an audience of high-level influencers at a prestigious conference on creativity and jobs in Venice next month.

The event is hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - an international group of regeneration experts who spread knowledge and best practice from around the world with their members.

OECD teams have made four visits to Paisley over the past year to study the town's ongoing regeneration plans, which aim to use culture and heritage to transform the area's future, and include the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Councillor Macmillan has been asked to join a bill of speakers including business leaders and senior academics from around 20 countries.

He has been invited to take part in discussions on culture and creative industries, to present information on current initiatives in Renfrewshire and to attend workshops related to the new Venice M9 Museum Mestre.

The conference will take place on 18 and 19 April. All of the councillor's costs will be met by the OECD.

Councillor Macmillan said: "For Renfrewshire to be asked to join this sort of stage shows influential people are taking notice of what is happening here.

"Our regeneration plans are about taking the global influence of Paisley's textile heritage and trading off the legacy of that - and we shouldn't be afraid to think big.

"Of course we have challenges to fix, but the UK City of Culture bid is about building the collective self-confidence for Paisley and Renfrewshire to start promoting our good points again.

"This invitation is an opportunity to put the area on the international map by showcasing what we have here and what we plan to do over the next few years.

"It is also a chance for us to learn more about how culture and heritage can transform cities by creating links with other places across the world which are on or have been on a similar journey.

"Specifically, the offer to take part in a session on Venice's new museum would tie into our plans for a £56.7m transformation of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around textiles."

Sylvain Giguere, head of the OECD LEED programme said: "We are delighted Cllr Mark MacMillan will participate as a plenary speaker at the annual Forum on Partnerships and Local Development meeting in Venice.

"This year the focus is on creativity, jobs and local development. We will examine how localities like Renfrewshire support culture as a driver for job creation, tourism, urban regeneration, and social inclusion.

"Over the last year we have helped Renfrewshire redefine its local development toolkit, we now want to share that approach with the rest of the world."