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Latest Maidstone Mela news.

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

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.” 

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.” 

Maidstone Mela Carnival Friday September 12 2014

The Mela celebrations will be officially launched on Friday September 12 when the Maidstone Mela Carnival will take place. Involving 8 local schools and over 400 children the Carnival will start outside County Hall at 1.35pm go along Week Street into Fremlin Walk before finishing on Jubilee Square just after 2pm. In addition to the children who will be showcasing visual art pieces which they will create in workshops which will be delivered by arts company Same Sky there will be a range of culturally diverse musicians including the Four by Four Dhol Drummers and Bloco Fogo Samba Group.

The Carnival is being delivered as part of a creative arts project being delivered by Cohesion Plus which is funded by Arts Council England across Gravesham, Dartford, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge Malling titled “Kent Mela Festival Project 2014” 

For further information please contact Gurvinder Sandher on 01474 369329 

The 11th Maidstone Mela

The 11th Maidstone Mela despite the poor weather again proved to be great success. Organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent Equality Cohesion Council and Maidstone Mela Advisory Group the event this year was held over 2 days with Mela Friday taking place in the Town Centre and Mela Sunday in Mote Park.

Mela Friday featured 9 local schools and over 500 school children who take part in a parade which started outside County Hall and went through Maidstone Town Centre before finishing on Jubilee Square. The children were accompanied by Bloco Fogo Samba, Four by Four Dhol Drummers, Lucky Moyo African Drummers and the Maidstone Grammar Girls Samba.

Once on Jubilee Square there were a range of performances including local comedy act Danny and Dan, Maidstone Trio Imminent and the ever popular Emerald Steel Band.

The Mela then moved to Mote Park on Sunday where around 10,000 people came during the day defying the rain and overcast afternoon. They were able to enjoy a full stage programme which showcased outstanding culturally diverse talent much of which was from Kent. Particular highlights included the Maidstone based Bollywood Blast, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Harmony, the ever popular Four by Four Bhangra, rising RnB Star J Sol, emerging bhangra stars Benny Dhaliwal and Raju Dinehwala. The Mela was brought to a climax by Badness a popular Madness Tribute Group. In addition to the stage programme there were around 50 stalls many of which were selling food and drink from around the World.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director for the Mela commented “I was again very pleased with how the support shown to the Mela by the local community. Events like this take a lot of planning and hard work, but that is all worthwhile if the community enjoy it. The feedback I have received both on Friday and today has been positive, the schools parade on Friday was our biggest to date and brought the Town Centre to a standstill while the stage programme on the Sunday was our most ambitious so far and held the audience throughout the day despite the poor weather. Great credit to Maidstone Borough Council and Arts Council England for their continued support for the Mela and all the local community groups who worked with us in the build-up.”

Maidstone council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services, Councillor John A. Wilson, said “What a fantastic event! The Mela was a great chance for us to celebrate Maidstone’s cultural diversity, and I was delighted to see that a bit of rain didn’t put people off! Congratulations to everyone involved in planning and delivering yet another successful Mela.”

Click here to see picture gallery

Maidstone Mela Launch Parade Event Biggest to Date

Friday September 6 will see the biggest Maidstone Mela Launch Parade to date take place with 9 local schools and some 500 local pupils taking part. The parade will depart from County Hall at 1.35pm; go along Week Street into Fremlin Walk before finishing on Jubilee Square just after 2pm. The children will be accompanied by culturally diverse artists including Bloco Fogo Samba, Four by Four Dhol Drummers, Lucky Moyo African Drummers and the Maidstone Grammar Girls Samba.

The children have been working with renowned arts company Samesky in the build-up to the Parade making flags and visual creative arts pieces which they will showcase on the day. The parade will be led by special guests from Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who is co-ordinating the organisation of the parade “We are very pleased that so many local schools have taken up our offer to take part in the Mela Parade. The Mela is a well-established event now in Mote Park but we hope through organising a large parade and the stage programme that we have planned on Jubilee Square that we can start to build up the presence of the Mela in the Town Centre as well, promoting the work of diverse artists to a wider audience. As ever I am very grateful to the on-going support of our partners Maidstone Borough Council and Arts Council England for helping make this vision a reality.”

Maidstone Mela attracts thousands to Mote Park

Music and food from around the world were order of the day at the 9th Maidstone Mela which took place over 3 days between September 9 and 11. This proved to be the biggest Mela to date both in terms of attendance and content with thousands coming out to support the event.

The Mela weekend was launched with a spectacular parade through the town centre on Friday 9 September in which over 300 young people from 4 local schools; Hollingbourne Primary, South Borough Primary, West Borough Primary and St Francis Primary took part. The parade climaxed in Brenchley Gardens where the Mayor Cllr Brian Mortimer raised the Mela Flag to announce the start of the Mela Weekend.

Saturday evening at Mote Park saw a spectacular night of fusion and colour with first bhangra superstar Sukshinder Shinda performing his urban bhangra sound which had the audience despite the poor weather up and dancing. He was followed by the Counterfeit Beatles who performed all the great hits from the fab four. The evening climaxed with a firework show.

Sukshinder Shinda said “This was the first time that I have performed at the Maidstone Mela and it was a great experience. It is really good for an artist like me promote our bhangra music to a wider audience and expose them to new sounds and songs. Despite the poor weather the audience were really supportive and really got into my set, even those who did not understand the lyrics still appreciated the music. Great credit needs to go to the Mela organisers for putting on such a fantastic performance.”

Sunday was a true celebration of food, music and dance with stage performances from around the world including Raqsonic a local Arabic band, K College who performed different dances from around the world, Merenkurkut a popular Finnish Folk Group, Phase 5 Steel Band, Maidstone Nepalese Group and local group Bollywood Blast. The Mela was headlined by Cohesion Plus who created a special performance involving Four by Four Bhangra, Cultural Beats and Uzambezi and the popular Michael Jackson Tribute Act Navi. In addition to the stage programme there was an array of food, craft, information and cultural stalls which created a real family feel.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of the Mela commented “I have been really overwhelmed with the positive response that we have had to the Mela. Much hard work goes into pulling this event together but all the work is really worthwhile when you get such positive feedback. Our Mela this year coincided with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and I hope we showed the positive community relations enjoyed here in Maidstone as we had all communities and all ages coming together as one. That for me is such a powerful image and I am very proud of what we along with our partners Maidstone Borough Council have achieved. Our artistic content was again very strong and the record crowds reflected that”

Maidstone Mela Launch Event

There will be a special launch event in Maidstone Town Centre for the Maidstone Mela on Saturday September 3rd with performances by Bloco Fogo, Maidstone Nepalese Group and the award winning Four by Four Bhangra Group.

Further information can be found in the following leaflet (click to enlarge).