"Alison’s research formed an important and empirical baseline of the depth and diversity of cultural activity in the area. The bid team relied heavily on this evidence and were able to use it to form the basis of narratives that described Paisley’s unique cultural identity and its relationship with cultural activities. The research has life beyond the bid. It is supporting work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the network of cultural and heritage assets and organisations as part of the Paisley and Renfrewshire Great Place Scheme.
The development of the research and the way it was conducted has acted as an exemplar of how to uncover many of the hidden stories and more intangible assets of Paisley. Tapping into community knowledge using storytelling and reminisce alongside the use of digital tools brought to light deep insights about our place".
"The mix of methods used facilitated an ease of engagement for participants including some of our most vulnerable community members. The digital storytelling in particular was a huge hit with participants and they reported enjoying remembering and retelling their stories, feeling heard, and that their experiences and memories were validated through the process. The methods used sparked many ideas and actually led to our walking group ‘STAR Striders’ creating a community map of the local assets based on their own and their family’s memories. As a result of Alison’s methods, and their success, we have since utilised digital methods of capturing stories and journeys more widely.
With regards to the changing and lost layers of cultural assets- there was a consensus from our participants that there is quite an impact from this that often goes unrecognised. E.g a sense of something being forgotten or slipping away. To have the opportunity to talk and remember facilitates a recognition and value that otherwise may fade with the memories. This is a particularly important point as, from a psychological perspective, the fading of these memories or connections often correlate to ageing, and the diminishing ‘meaning’ could even be construed as the forgetting of or diminishing of the sense of self.
I believe participants contributed to Paisleys 2021 City of Culture bid throughout engagement with Alison’s research. Cultural activities are often thought of as something that belongs to others, that is for ‘other types’ of people. At STAR Project we see it as vital that any community art based/cultural activity is recognised and valued for its importance, its relevance, and its impact. Community based cultural activities facilitate opportunity for those individuals who have been less likely to have previously engaged with culture, they allow growth in the cultural capacity of individuals and the community, and most importantly they provide people with methods to express themselves, their needs, and their hopes/dreams. At STAR we are well known for our extensive use of glitter, PVA, googly eyes, and chat. Any method that complements the use of these resources, and engages the community so well, can only be a good thing and goes a long way to facilitate improved wellbeing, sense of ownership, and pride, and therefore also contributing to the 2021 bid. All of these outcomes were mentioned by participants in Alison’s research evidencing the impact of participation."