PACE Theatre Company – which runs the largest youth theatre of its kind in the UK – is set to transform a vacant town centre building into an exciting new community performance space for Paisley.
The new theatre space will be dedicated to promoting and developing theatre for children, young people and families; as well as promoting participation by young people through performance and creative learning opportunities. When complete, it will be a fully accessible and child-friendly space.
The building will provide a home venue for PACE’s own performances (almost 200 annually) as well as hosting a programme of professional touring productions, and offering an alternative venue for Renfrewshire’s thriving community performance scene. It’s planned flexible-use spaces will also allow for a host of creative learning opportunities.
The plans were last week boosted after Renfrewshire Council confirmed support of up to £300k from the area’s share of a national fund aimed at helping community groups and owners bring empty town centre buildings back into use.
The proposed model for the building model is inspired by young people focused buildings in England such as Unicorn Theatre, Polka Theatre, Chickenshed and Half Moon Theatre in London, Hullabaloo in Darlington, Contact in Manchester and Greenwich Young People’s Theatre.
Renfrewshire has the highest number of weekly participants in participatory drama and theatre activities in Scotland, more than Glasgow or Edinburgh, accounting for 10% of all youth theatre participation in Scotland (Source: YTAS Sector Mapping Report, 2015). This makes Renfrewshire the ideal location for a space designed especially with young people in mind.
Grant Mason, Chief Executive, PACE Theatre said: “We are delighted to receive this crucial support from Renfrewshire Council. We want to make Paisley a major centre for theatre for children, young people & families and our ambition is to create a welcoming space where they can visit and begin to develop their creative lives.
“We believe this will make a vital contribution to Renfrewshire’s reputation as a vibrant creative and cultural centre, as well as breathing new life into a currently disused building, and the council’s backing is a significant step closer to making our vision a reality.”
The funding comes from Renfrewshire’s £1.46m share of the Scottish Government’s £50m Town Centre Capital Fund – aimed at bringing vacant buildings back into use, improving infrastructure and supporting community-led regeneration.
Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “PACE Youth Theatre is an established success story who have been encouraging Renfrewshire’s young people into the performing arts for a generation – and their list of alumni is a who’s who of Scotland’s film and TV stars.
“Their well-developed plans are a perfect fit for the terms of the Town Centre Regeneration Fund – which aims to encourage community groups to find new uses for vacant buildings – and we expect our contribution will help them attract the other funding they need.
“What PACE are doing perfectly complements the council’s own investment in Paisley’s cultural venues – including Paisley Museum and Town Hall – which will drive new footfall into the heart of the town and build on the work already done to make us one of Scotland’s key destinations.”
The award is a the first committed towards the project’s capital development total, expected to be in the region of £1 million, and PACE is actively seeking funding from other sources to achieve this.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. PACE Theatre Company was founded in 1988 and is a non-profit making company and registered charity. It runs the largest youth theatre in the UK with over 1,000 young people attending each week, and produces the annual pantomime at Paisley Arts Centre. PACE focuses on developing and nurturing young creative talent through performing arts experiences.
2. PACE alumni have included singer Paolo Nutini, and actors James McAvoy (X-Men), Richard Madden (Bodyguard, Cinderella, Game of Thrones), Kevin Guthrie (Fantastic Beasts, Sunshine on Leith), Scott Reid (Still Game), James McArdle (Mary Queen of Scots), Amy Conachan (Hollyoaks), Mark Rowley (The Last Kingdom) and Leigh Quinn (RSC).
3. Other Renfrewshire town centre projects boosted this week from the same fund include work to bring the vacant former police station in Johnstone back into use as a community hub, improvements to Renfrew’s Robertson Park to make it part of a national cycle route, and a package of other improvements to buildings and outdoor spaces across the area.