A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures
James Hare is the Executive Director of the National Trust for Scotland USA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization by a group of American volunteers with a passion for Scotland and a dedication to the National Trust for Scotland. Recently we spoke with him about his signature Tartan Week event in NYC, A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures.
What motivated you to put this event together?
This is our 7th year in New York. The Gala was started to help raise funds to support the work we do. It is also an annual opportunity to focus special attention on an individual or an organization responsible for contributing to the cultural life of Scotland. This we are honoring the 2014 Great Scot Award to the 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 12th Duke of Queensberry, Richard Scott.
Who will be attending the event?
People come from all over the States to attend the event, including many Brits who make the trip from the U.K.
What can they expect to experience?
We have a lot of fun, and the whisky and music are, of course, terrific featuring The Macallan, whose Brand Ambassador, Charlie Whitfield, always wows the audience. Atlantic Seaway provides the musical entertainment both during the main event and afterwards when we have a ceileigh and dancing to their live music. There are typically 6 or 7 fantastic live auction lots – this year including a one week stay at Roshven House which sleeps 20 in total Scottish highlands comfort, a luxury expedition on the famous Royal Scotsman train, Connoisseurs Scotland has contributed an amazing stay at the finest hotels in Scotland, too. We are also doing something a bit more historic this time by auctioning a number of pieces of Scottish pebble jewelry (kilt pins and broaches) from the collection of John Brown, Queen Victoria’s gillie, which have been donated by Ann-Morris Antiques in NYC.
Why is it an important event for the Scottish community there?
It is a great way to help Americans participate in the care of the properties of historic and natural importance that are safeguarded by the National Trust for Scotland. Their generosity is outstanding and we expect that the gala will push our total contributions since 2001 to the National Trust for Scotland to reach the $7 million mark this spring.
How do you see the event growing in the years ahead?
We know that the famous property owned by the Trust in Helenburgh, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House is going to have to raise in excess of $3 million over the next several years to undertake an essential and technically difficult exterior conservation to stop moisture infiltration into its walls. The gala will become even more important as the Hill House capital campaign is launched.
What are your thoughts on NYC Tartan week?
It gets better every year. The addition of the Tattoo this year is especially exciting.
What can be done to grow Tartan Week?
I’m trying to figure out how the City can illuminate the Empire State Building entirely in tartan. They do a great job with that for other important occasions and I’m sure we have the technology to weave lights into the appropriate plaid. Once that is figured out, the sky is limit for this event.