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 to 1996 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-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 from 1996 to the 1997 year and was expanded to other schools.
In the summer of 1997, citizens of Newnan-Coweta County hosted the Ayrshire 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, cellists, bass players, and percussionists 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.
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 the relationships among the citizens are built and nurtured.
Since, the beginning of the Sister City/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 schools across "The Pond."
In June 2014, a choral group, the Centre Masterworks Ensemble Choir, from Newnan-Coweta County traveled to Ayr-South Ayrshire Scotland to perform for the citizens of their Sister City and Sister County. The group was accompanied by Mayor Keith Brady and former Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Jenkins and met with Provost Helen Mooney during their visit.
In 2018, Cynthia Bennett, vice-president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber, traveled to Ayr and South Ayrshire to attend the wedding of a young man she first met when she served as a host family for some young Scottish musicians with the AFO. 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.
The Newnan Cultural Arts Commission has partnered with local Scottish heritage groups to organize an annual Sister City/Sister County Celebration near the January 25 birthday of Scotland's Bard, Robert Burns. View the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission Facebook page.
The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra has announced that they will return to Newnan in July 2023 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Sister City/Sister County agreement. The AFO will perform at the Wadsworth Auditorium and once again stay with host families during their visit to Newnan.
View the Wadsworth Auditorium facility.