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An Interview with Michael A. Scott, founder Burns Weekend

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Why A Burns Weekend in Newnan?

Rabbie Burns was the most romantic poet who ever lived.  Newnan fosters romance.  You can't walk the streets without falling in love with the place, the history and the people.  Newnan and Robert Burns match perfectly.  

Are you a fan of Robert Burns and why?

Robert Burns speaks to the soul of the average man.  He was known as the "Ploughman's Poet" for a reason.  A farmer by trade he crafted marvelously touching and insightful poems drawn from the most common, everyday experiences.  I adore his poems and lyrics.  

What's been your favorite Burns moment over the last 4 years?

We have had marvelous music over the years.  Jamie Laval was breathtaking.  Robert Mitchell and the Sound of Sleat made you get up and dance.  Carolina Ceilidh were so creative and joyful.  Each year we clasp hands and while the bands play we sing Auld Lang Syne together.  Hard to top that.  

What are future goals for Burns celebrations in Newnan?

Holding the hand of the person next to you while singing Auld Land Syne points to what we hope will happen in the future.  The best celebration or party happens when everyone joins in and shares their own heart through a song, or a dance, or a poem or a painting that is special to them.  A town shin dig or ho down is what we want.  

Where can someone find Scottish garb?

The internet brings the best shops right into your living room.  Fortunately the best shops sport excellent web sites.  Hendersons is wonderful.  Atlanta Kilts is helpful and local.  I am a huge fan of second hand items that I pick up on eBay.  Always wear your tartan proudly.  If you don't have one we can set you up.  

How and Why a Sister City/County?

A Little Background Information

Newnan-Coweta County Enjoy Scottish Sister City/Sister County

 

A chance meeting in Washington, D.C. at a national educational conference in 1994 between education and business leaders from Scotland and Coweta County led to a pilot international enterprise education program involving schools in Newnan-Coweta County and Ayr-South Ayrshire Scotland. During the 1995-96 school year, schools were linked via high speed connections to the internet and participated in regular video conferences.  In later years, more schools in Georgia and Scotland were partnered and study tours of students and teachers were organized. 

 

In June of 1996, a delegation of 50 educators, business leaders and elected officials from Georgia traveled to Scotland to meet with their counterparts in Ayr and South Ayrshire. The Georgians were feted at a civic reception held by the Provost of South Ayrshire Robert Campbell in June of 1996. The pilot program continued during the 1996-97 year and was expanded to other schools.


In the summer of 1997 citizens of Newnan-Coweta County hosted the Ayshire Fiddle Orchestra. The AFO is a dedicated group of young people who come together to keep alive the traditional music of Scotland. The orchestra is composed of approximately 70 violinists, cellist, bass players and percussionist between the ages of 12 and 21. The citizens of Newnan and Coweta County served as host families for the Scottish orchestra.  


In 1998, the City of Newnan and Coweta County resolved to formalize a sister city/sister county pact to establish and sustain permanent bonds among its citizens and their Scottish partners in the fields of education, culture, tourism, business and economic development for the mutual benefit of the involved communities.  


The Sister Cities Proclamation Ceremony took place at the Coweta County Court House in June of 1998 with City and County officials and their Scottish counterparts in attendance. The hope was that tourism and economic development opportunities would be shared as well as culture. Newnan Mayor Keith Brady believes that the most important benefit of the partnership is that relationships among the citizens are built and nurtured. 


Since the signing of the Sister City/Sister County Pact,  Newnan and Coweta County have hosted the AFO on two other occasions in 2004 and 2011. In addition, there have been many educational field trips led by teachers and school administrators to visit their partner school across "The Pond."


In June 2014, a choral group, the Centre Masterworks Ensemble Choir from Newan-Coweta-County traveled to Ayr-South Ayrshire Scotland to perform for the citizens of their Sister City. The group was accompanied by Mayor Keith Brady and Pro Tem Cynthia Jenkins and met with Provost Helen Mooney during their visit.


In 2018, Cynthia Bennett, Vice-President of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, traveled to Ayr and South Ayrshire  to attend the wedding of a young man who she had first met when her family hosted for young Scottish musicians with Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra. Cynthia met with Provost Mooney of South Ayrshire and  presented proclamations from the City of Newnan and Coweta County commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Sister City/Sister County agreement between Ayr and Newnan and South Ayrshire and Coweta County. Plans are in the works for a Scottish delegation to visit Newnan and Coweta County in 2019.


Summary by John P. Thrasher, Cultural Arts Commission

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