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Latest Maidstone Mela news.

Maidstone Community Mela Hailed a Great Success

Following months of hard work and sheer perseverance the Maidstone Community Mela took place in Whatman Park on Sunday July 16th. The Mela which has taken place in Maidstone since 2003 was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, local partners and volunteers.

The event was officially opened by Helen Grant MP, who thanked all the volunteers who were involved in bringing the event together and she stressed the importance of events like the Mela in Maidstone.

The ethos of the Community Mela is to use music, food and dance to bring communities together, to celebrate all that binds Maidstone together regardless of faith or background. This was reflected in the diverse stage programme which included the Emeralds Steel Band, Reel Eire Irish Dance, No Name Polish Pop, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance, Dance Asia who performed a Bollywood Fusion, Maidstone Nepalese Folk Dance and the ever popular Four by Four Bhangra. The Mela was headlined by Bhangra Superstar Jassi Sidhu and Jack Shepherd who sang the songs of Ed Sheeran.

Off stage there was also a range of activities for families to enjoy including face painting, creative arts workshops, stilt walkers, information stands from a range of voluntary and public sector partners including KCC Fostering, Unison, South East Water, Involve Kent and a range of food stalls with cuisine from around the world.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus “Despite the many obstacles we had to overcome I am really pleased with what we were able to achieve. I have been humbled by the positive response we have had from those in attendance. The Maidstone Mela is very close to my heart as it is our longest running event and to me it is about bringing the communities of the borough together, celebrating our shared values and the positive community relations we enjoy. In light of the recent terror attacks, events like this are even more important as the terrorists are seeking to cause division and tensions within our communities. I was really pleased with the artistic content both on and off stage and is something I wish to build upon next year. Finally I would like to say a big thank you to our volunteers, community partners, funders and sponsors who made the Community Mela possible.”

Maidstone Community Mela 2017

The popular Maidstone Community Mela which has been taking place in the borough since 2003 moves to a new venue this year in Whatman Park. The Community Mela which has been organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, local partners and volunteers will be taking place on Sunday July 16th between 12.30pm to 6pm.

An exciting programme of activity has been arranged both on and off stage including performances by The Emeralds Steel Band, Reel Eire Irish Dancing, Kitka Bulgarian Folk, Maidstone Nepalese Community, Four by Four Bhangra, Leading Internationally renowned Ed Sheeran Tribute Act Jack Shepherd and global Bhangra superstar Jassi Sidhu amongst others. While off stage there will be a range of activities including drumming workshops, face painting, visual creative arts workshops as well as a range of food from around the world.

 

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who is leading on the Community Mela: “It has been a real challenge to get the Community Mela to this stage as Maidstone Borough Council are no longer involved in terms of funding and organising. I am fully aware as I have been involved in the Mela since its inception that it would normally take place on the second Sunday of September. However, due to a lack of availability of Mote Park and also the limited funding we have got, this year the Community Mela will take place in Whatman Park. We are still actively seeking sponsors to help bridge the shortfall in our funding and we very much hope that the local community will come out and support this fantastic event, otherwise there is a real danger it will disappear from the calendar which would be a real shame as I have been working to build up the Mela since 2003.”

 

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.

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 

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. “

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

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

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.”

Sunday Pictures

Carnival Parade