Scotland Notes: Homecoming, Burns an’ a’ that
ONE Magazine welcomes its newest contributor, First Minister Alex Salmond
The year 2009 is already shaping up to be an exceptional year for Scotland. Inspired by the 250th anniversary of the birth of our national cultural icon Robert Burns, our Homecoming Year is celebrating many of Scotland’s great contributions to the world. For everyone touched, influenced and inspired by Scotland, this year presents an opportunity to reconnect with our past, and play a part in the dynamic Scotland we are building today. And with three months of events behind us it is clear that Homecoming is already having a significant impact, with many events reporting and projecting high participation levels.
Homecoming offers a wealth of activity highlighting some of our greatest contributions to the world and creating inspiring new ways for people at home and abroad to explore our nation’s rich culture and history — a history of great minds and innovation, of discovery, and of enlightenment. Scotland can boast intellectual greats such as philosopher David Hume, economist Adam Smith and James Black the chemist. These men were pioneers, taking forward new ideas and successfully challenging the beliefs of the past. And their legacy lives on today in our world-class research institutes, leading academics, famous festivals and cutting-edge design. Scotland is thriving on creativity.
Culture is the beating heart of this nation. It is part of the way we understand and project ourselves and Scotland’s place in the world. Scotland’s culture is unique — our wonderful Gaelic language and culture; the appeal of our magnificent monuments and stunning scenery; and our dynamic creative scene which continues to attract new people to Scotland every year. 2009 has already seen the Scottish Chamber Orchestra tour India, Glasgow heralded as UNESCO City of Music, and a host of Burns celebrations across the globe as his wit, compassion and integrity are recognised by those from Ayrshire to Argentina. It is clear Scotland’s favourite son now forms a substantial part of the articulation of Scottish identity. 2009 also saw Scotland secure the world-class Bridgewater Collection of Old Masters at the National Galleries of Scotland, through the acquisition of Titian’s Diana and Actaeon, further boosting Scotland’s reputation as a centre of cultural excellence. We are also looking forward — to Scottish Ballet’s tour of China in May, to Scotland’s representation at the Venice arts Biennale in June, and to the staging of our Children’s Festival productions in New York this autumn.
Scotland’s success is not just a thing of the past. While we celebrate our legacy throughout 2009, it is also a year for looking ahead. In celebrating our past we must look to the future, supporting and investing in our assets and nurturing new talent. And so we are ambitious. Ambitious for our artists and our Festivals, providing £6 million over the next three years to support Scottish based artists, events and exhibitions which have premiered at any of the Edinburgh Festivals; in the field of innovation — launching our £10m Saltire Prize for advances in marine renewable energy.
I am determined to play my part in ensuring Scotland continues to have cause for celebration in the future. We want everyone to be involved in creating that success, and I would encourage everyone to visit Scotland for our year of Homecoming, to have fun, get involved and celebrate Scotland’s contributions to the world.
Alex Salmond is the leader of the Scottish National Party and is the First Minister of Scotland. He was born in Linlithgow in 1954, attended Linlithgow Academy before studying at St Andrew’s University, where he graduated with ew’s University, where he graduated with a joint honours MA in Economics and History.