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Latest Maidstone Mela news.

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Maidstone Street Mela

Music, dance, food from around the world took centre stage in Maidstone Town Centre on Sunday September 11th. The Maidstone Street Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Maidstone Borough Council and part funded by Arts Council England with entertainment taking place in Jubilee Square, Fremlin Walk and Weak Street. The event was officially launched the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Malcom Greer and featured exciting performances including the Four by Four Bhangra Dancers, Reel Eire Irish Dancers, Phase 5 Steel Band, Wolf’s Head Morris, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance Group, Ronak Mela Bollywood Brass Band and the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group.

In addition there were free creative art workshops for children making badges and hats around the theme of the Mela which were delivered by LV21 and Same Sky Arts. The street mime artists, stilt walkers, human statues also proved very popular with the crowds as they toured the Town Centre.

According to Gurvinder Sandher from Cohesion Plus who organised the artistic element of the Street Mela, “I’ve been involved with the Mela since its inception in 2003 and have watched it grow over the years. I hope that next year we will be able to return to Mote Park but understand and appreciate there is a process that we need to go through. In that context I was pleased to be able to arrange something although much smaller than previous years in Maidstone to celebrate music and dance from around the world. The feedback we received on the artistic content for the street Mela was positive and I hope to use this model of arts delivery in other parts of Kent. I look forward to working with Maidstone Borough Council and partners on the future evolution of the Mela here in Maidstone working in partnership with the local community.”

Alongside the entertainment Maidstone Borough Council ran a consultation on the future direction of the Mela and other community events. The consultation will continue through to mid-October, and it will form the basis of a report to the Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee later this year.

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Maidstone Street Mela 2016

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Maidstone has been hosting a celebration of culturally diverse music food and dance since 2003, with the sights, sounds, flavours, and traditions of the diverse local community coming together as part of the Maidstone Mela event.

For 2016, however, the event adopts smaller, more engaging look with a street mela in the heart of the town centre. The event which takes place on Sunday September 11 between 11.30am and 4pm has been organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus with the support of Arts Council England. 

The street mela will feature exciting performances including the Four by Four Bhangra Dancers, Reel Eire Irish Dancers, Phase 5 Steel Band, Wolf’s Head Morris and Ronak Mela Brass Band and the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group. They will be joined by street food from around the world, street mime artists, stilt walkers, human statues and interactive arts workshops for young people. In addition Maidstone Borough Council will be running a consultation on the future direction of the Mela and other community events. The consultation will continue through to mid-October, and it will form the basis of a report to the Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee later this year. 

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I have been involved with the Mela since its inception in 2003. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve with the Mela in Maidstone and hope that the Mela can continue for many years to come as it’s a great way to bring all communities together and celebrate as one. I hope that the local community will come down into the town centre and enjoy the street festival we have created for this year with many exciting performers and contribute to the consultation.” 

“We’re excited to bring a ‘taster’ of this popular culturally diverse event to the streets of the town centre as part of our consultation process,” said Councillor David Pickett, chairman of Maidstone Borough Council’s Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee. “The idea to host a smaller event in the centre of Maidstone will help us re-energise future events. What’s more, it’s hoped that, by providing access to more people in the local area who may not have attended Maidstone Mela in the past, we’ll be able to engage a rich diversity of people and help deliver ever-more popular community events in the years to come. 

“It’s essential that the local community engagement is promoted in the best manner possible, so hosting this taster event for the full Maidstone Mela experience – and inviting attendees to provide 

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Maidstone Mela Again Proves Popular

Despite the poor weather thousands attended the 13th Maidstone Mela in Mote Park. The Mela has since its inception has been held on the second Sunday of September and has attracted a huge following and this year was no exception. The event was organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus, Mela Steering Group and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

The free festival celebrates the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance and provided an excellent showcase not just for artists performing on the stage but also for stall holders including food outlets, local charities and community groups.

The stage programme ran from 12.30pm to 6.30pm and was officially opened by the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Daniel Moriarty and included a range of culturally diverse acts including popular local band The Choos, Kitka a Bulgarian Folk Dance Troupe who went into the audience and got them to join in with their routine and the Kerala Cultural Association who performed some popular South Indian Dance. They were followed by the award winning Reel Eire Irish dance troupe, drama group GDS who previewed their forthcoming show at the Hazlitt Theatre and Anaconda who performed a series of traditional belly dances.

In the second half of the programme local vocal trio Imminent again proved to be a hit. There was some further Eastern European flavour with the popular Polish folk group Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels) performing, before the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group took to the stage to perform a number of traditional dances. The colourful and energetic Four by Four Bhangra Group had everyone up and dancing and copying their bhangra moves before the Mela was finished by the Trenchtown Experience who performed the hits of reggae legend Bob Marley and had the audiences singing along to his popular hits.

In addition to the stage programme there was over 50 stalls ranging from food from around the world to local charity and information stands as well as interactive arts workshops.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am very pleased that working in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council that we were able to deliver another excellent Mela. I was delighted to see so many people come out in the poor weather to enjoy what has become one of the largest culturally diverse celebrations in Kent. Great credit needs to be given not only to Maidstone Borough Council but all the volunteers who have helped make the Mela the success it has become today. When we started all those years ago we could never imagine how big the Mela would become in Maidstone. “

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Maidstone Mela Returns for 13th Year!

The popular Maidstone Mela – one of the largest Melas in the South East – will return to Mote Park for its 13th year on Sunday 13 September. The free festival is a celebration of the borough’s cultural diversity and local talent, with food, music and dance from around the world. Entertainment starts at 12:30pm, with the final act finishing at 6:30pm.

Exciting culturally diverse artists performing at the Mela include local band The Choos, Bulgarian Folk Dance Group Kitka, Dancers from the Kerala Cultural Association, popular Irish group Real Eire Dance, drama group GDS Productions, and Anaconda an award winning belly dance troupe specialising in Egyptian, Bolly, Romany, Tribal and Fusion. They will be joined by up and coming local trio Imminent, Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels), an exciting Polish folk group who will bring a flavour of Eastern Europe to the Mela, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group who have supported and performed at every Mela since its inception and the colourful and dynamic Four by Four Bhangra Dancers. Headlining the stage will be The Trenchtown Experience, an 8 piece band dedicated to the music of reggae legend Bob Marley.

In addition to the stage programme, visitors can try food from across the globe, explore craft and clothing stalls, and find out more about local charities and community groups to get involved with.

Councillor Gordon Newton, Chairman of Maidstone council’s Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee, said: “The Maidstone Mela is a fantastic celebration of Maidstone’s cultural diversity, and it’s an event that the council is very proud to be involved with. This year’s event promises to be a wonderful day, and I encourage everyone to get involved with everything on offer – dance to the music, taste something you’ve never tried before, and enjoy the exciting atmosphere!”

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am proud that we have been involved with every Mela since it started. I could never have envisaged all those years ago that the Mela would have grown like it has. We are very pleased with the culturally diverse stage programme we have with the majority of the acts from and around Maidstone, and we hope the local community will come out as it has in previous years to support this fantastic showcase of culturally diverse arts and food. Much credit needs to be given to Maidstone Borough Council for their ongoing support for the Mela.”

The event has been organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Poster 4x4    Poster Anaconda

Poster Imminent   Poster Kerela

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Maidstone Mela 2015 Details

The Maidstone Mela will be taking place on September 13 at Mote Park between 12.30 and 6.30pm.

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There is an exciting stage programme featuring a range of culturally diverse artists including Bulgarian Folk Group Kitka, Kerala Cultural Association, Real Eire Irish Dance, Piwnica Polish Cabaret, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Four by Four Bhangra Group and Bob Marley Tribute the Trenchtown Experience.

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There will also be a wide array of stalls and stands including the principal Mela sponsor Mid Kent College, as well food from around the World.

For further information on stalls please contact Liz Flynn on lizflynn@maidstone.gov.uk

For further information on the stage programme please contact Gurvinder Sandher on info@cohesionplus.com

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Maidstone Mela 2014 Video

See some wonderful footage of the 12th Maidstone Mela which captured the colour, fun and artistic quality.  The Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent Equality Cohesion Council, Maidstone Mela Advisory Group with the support of Arts Council England.

 
4x4 Performing as part of Afro-Bhangra Fusion 2

Maidstone Mela Weekend Hailed a Great Success

The 12th Maidstone Mela attracted which is organised in partnership by Maidstone Borough Council, Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council attracted record numbers to what is now the largest culturally diverse arts festival in Kent. The celebrations commenced on the Friday with the Mela Carnival Parade which went through Maidstone Town Centre and involved 7 local schools and around 350 young people alongside the Bloco Fogo Samba Group, the Maidstone Grammar Schools for Girls Samba Group and the Four by Four Dhol Drummers. The parade was led by the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Daniel Moriarty and Kent County Council Chairman Councillor Peter Homewood.

On the Sunday the entertainment moved to Mote Park where in excess of 12,000 enjoyed a day of music, dance and food from around the World. The Mela was officially opened by the Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Richard Thick and the High Commissioner for the Bahamas Eldred Bethel. The stage programme a number of local acts including the Phase 5 Steel Band, Kerala Cultural Association, Reel Eire Dance, Bollywood Blast and the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group. Particular highlights were the performances by comedy duo Danny and Dan and the Cohesion Plus produced “Afro-Bhangra” Fusion which was performed by Four by Four Bhangra and Uzambezi Arts. The Mela was brought to an exciting climax by the headline act Soul star Ruby Turner.

In addition to the stage programme there were over 25 food stalls serving delicacies from around the World as well as interactive arts workshops for children and information stands.

Gurvinder Sandher the CEO of Kent Equality Cohesion Council and the Artistic Director of the Mela commented “I have been working on the Mela since its inception in 2003 and this year was our biggest attendance to date. I am really proud of what we been able to achieve and the Mela underlines how the arts can be used to bring the diverse communities of the borough together. I would like to pay tribute to our partners Maidstone Borough Council and the Mela Advisory Group who have continued to support the Mela and have worked with us to build upon its success year upon year.”

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Carnival Parade

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Maidstone Mela 2014 Final Preparations Under way

Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council and the Maidstone Mela Advisory Group are pleased to announce final details for the 12th Maidstone Mela.

Friday September 12th will see the Mela Carnival Parade which will feature 7 local schools and some 400 children. The Carnival Parade will start outside County Hall at 1.35pm go along Week Street into Fremlin Walk before going back via Week Street finishing in Brenchley Gardens just after 2pm. This replaces the route which was previously published.

The focus will then turn to Mote Park on Sunday September 14 where there is an exciting stage programme for the Mela between 12.30pm and 7pm with a range of culturally diverse artists performing including the Cohesion Plus produced “Afro-Bhangra Fusion” piece featuring Four by Four Bhangra and Uzambezi Arts, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance Group, Bollywood Blast, Gypsy Stars and the Mela will be headlined by the award winning Ruby Turner. In addition there will over 50 stalls including food from around the world and information stands provided by public and voluntary sector partners.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of the Mela commented “We are very excited by the programme that we have developed for the Mela this year. The Carnival Parade will have a fresh new look to it this year including a number of exiting culturally diverse artists and a new route, while the celebrations on the Sunday include a top quality stage programme which will be headlined by the legendary soul star Ruby Turner and the Cohesion Plus produced Afro-Bhangra Fusion. We are very grateful to the support provided by Arts Council England and Maidstone Borough Council for allowing us to explore and further develop the artistic content of the Mela.” 

Ruby Turner

Maidstone Mela Line Up 2014 Confirmed

The Maidstone Mela will this year be headlined by One of UK’s finest Soul, R&B. Jazz, Reggae and Gospel Singers Ruby Turner who has released 14 albums with number ones in the UK and USA as well as appearing on releases by the likes of Mick Jagger, UB40 and Brian Ferry. In recent years she has performed regularly with Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Band.

Other exiting performances include the Cohesion Plus produced “Afro-Bhangra” Fusion which will be performed by Four by Four Bhangra and Uzambezi Arts, popular local comedy duo Danny and Dan, the excellent Phase 5 Steel Band, emerging vocal trio Imminent and the internationally renowned Gypsy Stars who originate from Poland. Other local acts performing include the Kerala Cultural Association, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Real Eire Dance and Bollywood Blast

Gurvinder Sandher Artistic Director for the Mela commented “I am very pleased with the breadth of stage acts we have for this year’s Mela. We have everything from Calypso, Bollywood, Irish Dance to traditional Nepalese and Roma music and dance to contemporary Comedy. I am confident the newly commissioned Afro-Bhangra Fusion will prove to be popular and what a great treat for those in attendance to see the legendary Ruby Turner performing live at the Mela. As ever I appreciate the on-going support of all our partners most notably Maidstone Borough Council and Arts Council England for allowing us to develop such an exciting stage programme.”