A new community theatre in Paisley for children,
young people and families, by
a place for
young people
theatre productions for children, young people and families
a place for
creative learning
expanded programme of participation for ages 0-25 of all backgrounds and abilities
a place for
the community
low cost venue for community performances, rehearsals and classes
a place for
free multi-sensory creative play space for 0-9 with changing art installations designed to ignite imaginations
a place for
young artists
home to a rep company of young artists aged 18-25 plus free space and mentoring for young emerging artists
a place for

family friendly design in all areas including a new cafe/bar and creative play space

Why are we doing this?

a place to help
boosting the local economy by increasing visitors to Renfrewshire by over 40,000
a place to
dedicated to empowering young people with creativity and inspiring future generations
a place that's
a green, carbon neutral, theatre for the future that's financially and environmentally sustainable with 100% led theatre fixtures
a place for
a much needed mid-sized venue for Renfrewshire, that establishes it across Scotland as a destination for children and young people's theatre
a place for
a sector-leading venue for children's theatre in Scotland; producing, receiving and promoting theatre for and by young people
a place for
fully accessible, autism and ASN friendly building with the facilities to host new ASN youth theatre classes

Why is this important?

Research has shown the importance of attending and participating in theatre to young people. It raises aspirations, improves academic performance, develops confidence, encourages team-work, cooperation and creative risk-taking, develops empathy and emotional intelligence and gives children the skills, curiosity and creativity they need to understand the complex world we live in.  Theatre engagement amongst young people in the UK has decreased in recent years. We want to change that.

Theatre-going is a habit. Instilled in children early it can last a lifetime. The same goes for not going.

Theatre... gives our children the skills and creativity necessary to face the world, to understand it and perhaps to change it too.

the vision

A theatre venue in Scotland, dedicated to producing, receiving and promoting better access to theatrical productions for young people and families as well as promoting participation by young people aged 0 to 25 in performance and creative learning activities in a professional environment.

300+ seat main house theatre
A space specially designed for theatre with proscenium arch stage and 100% LED lighting fixtures.
Flexible studio theatre space
A flexible multi-purpose studio theatre and creative learning workshop, seating up to 100.
Family friendly cafe/bar
With stage area for live music, poetry or scratch performance.
Creative Play Marketing Image
Free community creative play space
A free multi-sensory play space designed to ignite young imaginations with changing, themed interactive play installations.
A more creative society
Co-designed with young people, to inspire the next generation through creativity

Inspired by young people focused venues in England including Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington, Polka Theatre, Half Moon Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and Chickenshed in London and Contact in Manchester.

The space will house a mid-scale traditional 350 seat main proscenium arch dedicated theatre, a small scale 80-100 seat flexible studio theatre / creative learning space and a community creative play and workshop space. The spaces will be complemented by a family friendly café/bar facility with informal performance area, dressing rooms, reading snug and exhibition space for young visual artists. The space will be fully accessible, autism friendly, and co-designed and developed at every stage with a group of ‘young architects’.

The project has an estimated cost of £2.4m and has already received £300k of support from Renfrewshire Council. Initial works will start in March 2020 with an aim to open by Christmas 2021.

Target Progress
£750k (Phase 1)

I am a child of Paisley – my mother was an enthusiastic member of the amateur dramatic society in the 1930s – and I can’t think of any theatrical cause more vital, more worthy and more exciting than the building of a new theatre by PACE. Send money and wish it godspeed.

Sir David Hare


funding partners


Why Renfrewshire?

Renfrewshire has the highest number of weekly participants in participatory youth theatre activities in Scotland [YTAS Sector Mapping Report, 2015]. We want to  building on our successful level of participation with an increased programme of high quality performances for children and young people.

The site appears to be at approximately the same location as Paisley’s first purpose built theatre The Abercorn, built in 1882, detroyed by fire in 1889.  The current building was contsructed in 1932 and has been used as a dance hall, templar hall,  telephone exchange, and night club and has lain empty since 2004. 

Transport Links
The building is directly across the road from Paisley Gilmour Street Station, a 10 minute train ride from Glasgow Central.  

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Spread the Word

We need help to let as many people as possible know about this project. Tell your friends and colleagues or share your support on social media.  Write to your councillor, MSP or MP to pledge your support. Help us get the project in front of people who can help.  

@exchangepaisley  #futurepaisley  #playyourpart   exchangetheatre.org

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tell us your thoughts

Email us at exchange@pacetheatre.co.uk, call us on 0345 130 5218.

Who are PACE?

We are the UK's largest youth theatre.

PACE Theatre Company is based in Paisley and was formed in 1988 and is a registered charity specialising in work with children and young people. It runs PACE Youth Theatre – the largest youth theatre of its kind in the UK, working with around 1,000 young people ages 3-21 every week. It also produces professional theatre productions including Paisley’s annual pantomime to audiences of over 17,000 every year, tours schools with educational performances, and hires out rehearsal studios, equipment and services from its Paisley base. We are passionate about the power of theatre and creativity to improve the lives of young people.

PACE is run by a core team of twelve permanent staff, employing over 40 freelance artists and technical staff, and 15 part-time front of house staff.  We have a bursary and concessionary place scheme to help as many young people as possible gain access to life-changing arts skills and inspiring opportunities.

Former PACE Youth Theatre alumni include Richard Madden, James McAvoy, Paulo Nutini, James McArdle, Amy Conachan, Scott Reid, Shauna MacDonald and many more.

yearly audiences
young trainees
participation experiences
PACE must be about the best, most dynamic, innovative, original and inclusive youth theatre group in Scotland. A real credit to all past and present who work so hard to create the magic. Thank you!
Archie Dempster
Audience Member
She has met so many good friends along the way. Her confidence has grown because of PACE and now she is aiming to go further. I would highly recommend PACE.
Naomi McKay,
PACE parent
My son has been attending PACE for the past year and it is the first class I haven't had to 'drag' him too !! He absolutely loves it and it has really boosted his confidence. He has learnt that having a very creative imagination is a wonderful thing !!!
Suzy Scott
PACE Parent
Brilliant place to make loads of friends, build your confidence and develop your acting skills.
Lana, 15
..the size, skill & enthusiasm of this company is overwhelming. I want to run away to Paisley and join them.
Tom Hughes
National Theatre
Having the opportunity to assist with younger groups is an amazing experience. Watching younger kids grow as people and performers is really beneficial.
Max, 16
I used to attend Pace Youth Theatre for many years. As I got older I realised how much I benefited from the Drama Workshops, Holiday fest. I feel now that Pace was a start in my life as I decided I wanted to do Drama as a Career.❤️
Chloe Morrison
via Facebook
Some of my best memories of PACE were at Fest. It wasn’t just one week, it felt like I got to spend all summer with my friends, creating and being a part of shows that to this day I’m very proud of! Fest challenged me as an actor in many different ways but most of all gave me the confidence to be really comfortable on stage.
Scott Reid, Actor
(Still Game, Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time)
Fest is an extremely useful experience that helps to build so many skills that you will use every day of your life. Not only that, you will have such a fun time and meet so many amazing people while doing it.
Daniel, 17