Events guru flies to New York with Tartan Week plan
AS TARTAN Week got under way in New York yesterday, it emerged that the organisers had flown in events guru Pete Irvine to mastermind next year's celebration of all things Scottish.
The 2007 event is lower key than usual because of the Holyrood elections looming at home. Previous years have seen high-profile appearances from both Alex Salmond and First Minister Jack McConnell. But the event's organisers insist Irvine is not on a rescue mission.
Instead, they say he is working on a strategy to give the 2008 event a higher profile and all-year-round impact.
This year's festivities include the regular celebrity-packed Dressed To Kilt fashion show and a 10km run from Central Park.
The 'week' actually lasts a fortnight, with events culminating on April 14 with the rousing New York City National Tartan Day Parade down Sixth Avenue.
It centres on a replica 'Scottish Village' built inside Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, featuring zones such as tourism, food and drink, heritage, business and education.
On offer to the 250,000 Americans expected to take a look will be live music, fashion shows, culinary exhibitions and dance.
Today, several thousand runners are due to compete in a 10km run starting from Central Park, traditionally the last qualifier before the New York Marathon.
One insider predicted this year's event would be a success, despite the lack of Scottish politicians.
"It is a pity that those carrying the purse strings cannot be here, but essentially it is not about them," he said. "It is about celebrating Scotland and there are plenty here that can carry that banner."
Irvine himself said it was time to look to the future: "Tartan Week has a lot of potential. There is a lot of work that could be done here. A lot of this is small footsteps, but there's potential for it to be so much more.
"I have helped with the Tartan Week strategy in the past and we managed to make it cool and contemporary.
"We need to look at a proposal which really makes the most of this event. This is not just any city - this is taking part in the metropolis that is New York. People have so many things on the radar here, it is up to us to create something that demands attention."
Edinburgh's Lord Provost, Lesley Hinds, said: "We want to make the very most of this event. In the same way that we have tried to reinvent the Tattoo elsewhere, so too should we be setting up something with longevity and a maximum impact."
Tomorrow night, Sir Sean Connery will host the Dressed To Kilt event. The catwalk show will see the wares of Vivienne Westwood shown alongside Scottish talent such as Jonathan Saunders.
This year's programme also features appearances from Scots rocker Sandi Thom and leading crime writer Ian Rankin. Scotland Rocks will feature Sons and Daughters and Belle and Sebastian.
Tartan Week will culminate on April 14 with the Tartan Day Parade marshalled by the Scottish Parliament's presiding officer, George Reid.
Reid said: "The role of grand marshal for the parade is one I am pleased to accept.
"To experience the streets of New York lined with people from across North America who are so proud of their Scottish heritage will no doubt once again be an emotional experience."
The cost to the Scottish Executive of supporting this year's Tartan Week events is around 500,000.
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