IN the grand scheme of things – when Europe is at war and when Farage and his cronies are pushing back against zero carbon at a time when we’ve had heatwaves at both the North and South Poles at the same time – Stirling’s failure to make the shortlist for the UK City of Culture 2025 can be fairly labelled a disappointment rather than a disaster.

Even so, when the news emerged at the weekend that the city had not been successful, it was deflating. Given that previously the UK City of Culture tag has already gone to Northern Ireland (with Derry/Londonderry being the first to win back in 2013) and England (with Hull in 2017 and Coventry playing host this year), you might have thought that the Scottish and Welsh entrants might have been in with a strong shout for 2025.

Well, the Welsh entrant, Wrexham County Borough, still is, but it will be up against Bradford, Southampton and County Durham, not Stirling unfortunately. It has fallen short, as Perth and Paisley did in the last competition.

As a former resident of the fine city of Durham I now hope that its bid comes out on top, if only so we can have a year-long celebration of the song-writing genius of Paddy McAloon (you can have that idea for free, Country Durham).

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But the pressing question north of the border is where does this leave Stirling now? How does it ensure that all the energy it has galvanised for the bid doesn’t fizzle out? That’s the challenge as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of city status.

There are examples to follow. Paisley has been impressive in forging ahead with its culture-led renaissance, most recently seen in its hosting of Unboxed at Paisley Abbey. The fact that it has been able to attract AL_A, the architectural practice led by RIBA Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete, to take on the task of reconfiguring Paisley Museum is perhaps the most obvious proof of the town’s ambition.

But big infrastructure ideas are not the only option when it comes to culture. You can generate interest and excitement in a place via creative thinking and innovative ideas. At the weekend I was lucky enough to attend the closing gala of the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness. In just over 10 years Falkirk Community Trust has managed to build up an international reputation for an event in a small town on the banks of the Forth. The result of smart thinking, not big thinking.

Stirling is already home to two fine medium-sized venues in the Tolbooth and the recently revamped Macrobert Arts Centre out on the university campus. It is the birthplace to Sistema Scotland, the arts charity behind the Big Noise project that uses music education to help children in challenged communities. And every year it hosts the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival which brings a real buzz to the city centre. There’s a sense in the city that at a grassroots level, it’s forging ahead.

So, the basics are there. What it needs now is the desire to build on them. Hopefully the City of Culture bid, unsuccessful as it might have been, shows that the desire is already in place.