Cumming wows New York at head of Tartan Day Parade

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ALAN Cumming yesterday led a Caledonian invasion of New York, and spoke about what it meant to be a Scot abroad.

The movie and theatre star was the grand marshal of this year's Tartan Day Parade and relished performing in front of one of the biggest audiences of his career.

Large crowds lined the streets, with many waving Saltires and the Stars and Stripes as the procession made its way along New York's Sixth Avenue.

X-Men and Cabaret star Cumming was joined at the Scottish showcase by students from his former drama school, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD).

The Glasgow-based institution used the occasion to confirm their appointment of Cumming as the president of their new American Foundation.

In that role the actor will work with the RSAMD to launch an appeal for a scholarship fund in the US.

Cumming said: "As an artist, so much of what defines you and makes you unique is where you are from and the environment in which you learned your craft. For me, being Scottish and training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama both define me and make me incredibly proud.

"I am honoured and delighted to be representing my country and spreading the message of the Academy at this year's Tartan Day Parade in New York City."

Culture Minister Mike Russell, who also took part in the parade, described Cumming as a "shining example of Scottish talent" and "a true success story of the RSAMD and a fitting president of their American Foundation".

He added: "The Tartan Day Parade is an impressive and touching sign of affinity from the City of New York for Scotland. I was honoured to be asked by the National New York Tartan Day Committee to represent the Scottish Government and lead the celebrations alongside the Presiding Officer and renowned actor and grand marshal Alan Cumming.

"The message today was one of Homecoming as we invited everyone here to visit Scotland and continue the celebrations through 2009. Working together through these difficult times is a real priority on both sides of the Atlantic."

As well as yesterday's parade in New York, events were held in a host of other cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver.

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