A former department store will be transformed into a major art space in Paisley

Creatives across Renfrewshire will now be able to make the most of a major new multi-arts space set to be created at the Paisley Center as part of a multi-million dollar transformation.

The new three-storey space will be created in the mall’s former Allders department store, which was acquired by Beyond Retail Property Fund Ltd last year.

The new space, called The Art Department, will occupy all floors and be a pop-up art space for a variety of visual arts, including painting, drawing, film and video, sculpture, ceramics, performance art, live art and craftsmanship.

It is expected to open in the coming months and will feature a full program of exhibitions, events and creative learning activities. Discussions are underway with a number of creative partners including Future Paisley, OneRen, PACE Theater Company, Paisley Artists, ReMode, University. of the West of Scotland and the Paisley Centre, among others.

The art department also announced plans to host the largest exhibition in the city’s history called The Big Art Show, which will run from August 26 to November 26 and will feature artists from around the world.
the country.



Eleanor Collier (member of the Outspoken Arts Board), Richard Ford (partner at Reith Lambert), Steven Thomson (Creative Dir Outspoken Arts) and Angela Pierracini (artist)

The exciting project – which will be Paisley’s largest art space – is the brainchild of Steven Thomson, creative director of Outspoken Arts Scotland (OAS), a long-standing arts organization based in Paisley which focuses on young people ; those with protected characteristics and vulnerable groups.

Thomson was a cultural producer on Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid team, led by Jean Cameron, which made Paisley the only town to be shortlisted for the title.

Speaking about the project, Steven, who is Creative Director of Outspoken Arts Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Paisley Center team on the opening of The Art Department.

“It represents a significant development in the cultural landscape of Paisley.

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“It responds to the many aspirations of our young people who have expressed the need for good city center facilities through the ambitions of the Paisley 2021 bid and beyond.

“This is a critical time in the lives of many people where they need social and cultural space to re-engage with each other.

“This is vital given two years of lockdown and isolation, and we hope the new space will contribute to people’s positive mental health and wellbeing, as well as exciting new developments in the city centre. .

“It’s really wonderful to work in partnership with positive organizations that want to support the development of a vibrant social and cultural scene.

“We strongly believe that art is for everyone, no matter what your abilities or where you’re from, and we hope you’ll visit the art department.”

The project was developed by OAS in partnership with a voluntary group of around twenty visual artists working across Scotland.

It follows a year-long program of comprehensive creative learning workshops, gallery space management at Artspace37 and the highly successful recorded drama production The Paisley Suite.

Allders’ store has been left in immaculate condition and lends itself almost instantly to large exhibitions.

There will be space for creative learning and other performing and visual arts activities.

There is an opportunity for artists emerging into new practices to make exciting use of a large, dynamic space within the exhibition site.

Additionally, there will be a pop-up art shop on site.



The Outspoken Arts team will open the exhibition space in April

With no art space in the city due to major ongoing development, organizers are already in talks to attract major exhibitions to the space in 2022 and 2023.

Allder’s transformation is one of many underway by Beyond Retail, which has signed a multi-million pound deal to take over the High Street shopping complex.

The new owners – who have been spurred to put pen to paper by the ambitious Vision for Paisley Town Center 2030 project – hope to revamp the center to create new residential properties and a mix of retail, leisure and shopping malls, as well as new outdoor public spaces .

It was then announced in January 2021 that a deal was also in place to take over the former Marks & Spencer High Street unit after the chain of stores confirmed its move from the city centre.

Beyond Retail submitted its full planning application for the center and surrounding area in November last year.

Richard Ford, Partner at Reith Lambert, who represents Beyond Retail, said: “We are delighted to support and promote Outspoken Arts in this exciting and interesting venture for Paisley.

“The ambitious plans Steven and his team have for innovative use of space are truly exciting and we look forward to seeing them come to fruition over the weeks and months ahead.

“Replacing a flagship department store is difficult in the current business climate, but Outspoken Arts’ ambitious plans for the space show that there is still significant interest in investing in Paisley town centre.

“Our client, Beyond Retail, is currently working on its exciting new multi-use master plan for the Paisley Center, which will help deliver the spirit of the Vision for the Paisley Town Center 2030.

“This will include a new residential development, retail businesses, a brand new hotel as well as the potential for a state-of-the-art health and community center, which is a long-standing ambition for the
town.”

Lisa Charlwood Green, Chair of Outspoken Arts Scotland, added: “This fantastic new arts space cements Paisley as a strong contender in the Scottish arts scene.

“I’m so excited that this former retail space will be the new hub for art and mental health to mingle as a positive outcome of the pandemic.”

The project has also been well received by groups who will partner with Outspoken Arts.

Rikki Payne, Artistic Director of OneRen, commented, “The creative opportunities in such a large and important space are endless.

“Creativity and the arts have a huge role to play in the regeneration of Paisley.

“It’s great to have a space where artists and arts organizations can meet and collaborate.

“OneRen looks forward to the projects and events that emerge from this unique space. »

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