For specific stall enquires please contact Christine Dier at Maidstone Borough Council on 01622 602 000.
The Mela Day event again proved to be popular with thousands in attendance for the all day cultural extravaganza. It was formally launched by a community parade which featured local schools who had been working with Samesky, Lucky Moyo and Cultural Beats in the build up and local community groups. The parade climaxed in front of the main stage.
Bill Singh from Cultural Beats commented “The idea of having a community parade was a great idea. It was so positive to see so many different communities coming together as one.”
The stage programme featured a range of culturally diverse acts including Bloco Fogo, Maidstone Nepalese Community Association, Lynda Fryday Academy of Irish Dancers, Wolfshead and Vixen Morris Dancers.
Particular highlights which were funded through Arts Council England were the performances of emerging bhangra star Rana Sahota and the Cohesion Plus produced piece ‘Fusion Clash’. This piece featured a fusion of African. Asian and Western music and vocal styles which was complimented by the Four by Four Bhangra Dancers. This proved to be especially popular with most of the crowd by the end of the performance standing and dancing along to the infectious beat.
Suki Randhawa from Four by Four commented “We had a great response from the audience. It was very exciting for us to be involved in a project like this as it allows us to try different things and explore new methods of working and new styles of performance.”
The Mela was finished off by the ‘The Take That Experience’ a local tribute group.
Comments on the evaluation forms included;
“Great for all the cultures to come together
“An exceptionally well organised Mela. Well done and keep it up”
“Great event, excellent entertainment”
“The Cohesion Plus band were outstanding”
Pouring rain did not put off Bhangra superstar Jazzy B from putting on an energetic and colourful performance at the Maidstone Mela Night event performing from his catalogue of hit songs including “Romeo”, “Rambo” and “Guddi”. Jazzy got an excellent response from the audience who had braved the poor weather to attend.
He commented after his performance “The vibe was really positive from the audience. I wanted to put on a great show for them, thanking them for coming out in the poor weather and they responded to my style of music. I look forward to coming back to Maidstone soon, hopefully the weather will be better next time!”
Jazzy was followed on stage by the Suitcase Blues Brothers who had the crowd dancing and rocking with a memorable performance.
Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Cohesion Plus “I would really like to thank Arts Council England and Maidstone Borough Council for their support in allowing the Mela night to happen. We are trying to showcase artists to new audiences and the different styles we had today reflected this approach. Both Jazzy B and the Suitcase Blues Brothers performed great sets despite the poor weather and the responses we had from people as they left were so positive”
The Maidstone Mela Night was organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council and was part funded via Arts Council England.
Emerging Bhangra star Rana Sahota will be performing at the Maidstone Mela on Sunday. A late addition to the bill, he takes the place of ‘2 for 1’ who had to pull out for personal reasons.
Rana will be singing from his forthcoming album. He has won may plaudits for his debut album last year and is looking forward to wooing fans with us unique and enrgetic fusion of bhangra and pop.
“I am delighted to be performing at the Maidstone Mela and am looking forward to showcasing tracks from my forthcoming album,” Rana said, excited about his performance at the Mela.
The formal launch of the Maidstone Mela took place on July 14 with some 350 children joined by teachers and parents parading through the town centre led by Dhol Players, African Drummers and the Bloco Fogo Samba Group. The launch was made possible due to funding secured from Arts Council England.
The schools worked with our partners the renowned arts company Samesky on visual displays which the schools showcased during the parade. The schools involved were St Michael’s CE Junior, Archbishop Courtenay Primary, St Francis Primary, Hollingbourne Primary and West Borough.
The launch event parade started outside Marks and Spencer in Week Street, it then went down Fremlin Walk, into Earl Street, back up Week Street before finishing at Brenchley Gardens where the acts involved in the parade performed for a short time before the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr. Eric Hotson raised the Mela Flag to formally launch the celebrations and activities for the Mela in September.
Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Cohesion Plus said “The Mela launch here in Maidstone goes from strength to strength and it was so great to see so many people coming out and supporting the parade. I am very grateful for the supported provided by Arts Council England without which this event would not be able to happen. The feedback from schools has also been really positive”
Photos courtesy of Sarah Knight and Chris Brunt.
In preparation for the Mela, to be held over two days in September, the young pupils will be parading through Maidstone town centre to celebrate the start of the Mela. This year the Maidstone Mela, which celebrates diversity through music, food and dance, promises to top last year’s popularity and be bigger and better than before.
Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr John A. Wilson, said: “The Mela is an important part of Maidstone’s culture. This year’s parade will see scores of children showcasing their art work through the town and will be a taste of what September 11 and 12 will bring. It’s a great example of people working together to bring communities together.”
The Mela is organised in partnership by Maidstone Borough Council, the Kent Equality Cohesion Council and Cohesion Plus. This year it will take place in Mote Park on September 11 from 5pm to 9.15pm and September 12 between 12pm and 6pm.
At the launch of the Mela, which takes place on July 14, there will be a colourful parade with pupils from St Michaels CE Junior, Archbishop Courtenay, St Francis, Hollingbourne Primary, South Borough and West Borough taking part.
The parade will be led by the Four by Four Bhangra dhol drummers, Bloco Fogo Samba and Uzambezi African Drummers.. It will start outside Marks & Spencer in Week Street at 10.30am. The celebrations will then lead down Fremlin Walk before reaching Brenchley Gardens for a flag raising ceremony.
Since 2003, the Mela has attracted thousands of people each year to Mote Park, where they have enjoyed performances of music and dance from around the world.
Gurvinder Sandher, Director of Cohesion Plus, said: “I am really pleased with how the Maidstone Mela has developed. The Mela has evolved from a one-day celebration of music, food and dance to one which celebrates the diversity of Maidstone over several months.
“The launch is an excellent example of how young people are now involved and this year’s launch will be the biggest to date. I believe the work we are doing in Maidstone is a beacon for other parts of the country and is an excellent example of how the arts can be used to promote community cohesion.”
For further information visit www.cohesionplus.com