Cohesion Plus is delighted to confirm the details for the 7th annual Fusion Festival which will be taking place in Gravesend Town Centre and the Gravesham Borough Market on Saturday 15th June between 10.30am to 2.30pm. The festival will bring exciting artists and art forms to the heart of the local community. There will be amazing contributions of music, dance, creative artists and street art around the Town Centre.
The Fusion Festival has always been a stellar day out for the family and builds upon our recent successful Saint George’s Day celebrations which highlighted the positive community relations enjoyed in the borough. Watch out for the roaming elephant, the giant stilt walkers and the amazing human statutes as you make your way through town!
The festival is organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, Gravesham Borough Council and is supported by Arts Council England.
Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Producer of Cohesion Plus commented, “The Fusion Festival is always such a pleasure to deliver in Gravesend Town Centre. The festival brings an exciting array of culturally diverse performers into the heart of Gravesend transforming the town into a hive of creative activity. So come down and enjoy what promises to be an amazing day out.”
Cohesion Plus and Festive Road are proud to announce a new show titled the ‘Dancing Maharajas’ which is currently in development stage. The first test performances are due to take at the Gravesham Fusion Festival on June 15th and the Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival on July 7th. Further work will then place during the summer for a series of performances in October linked to Diwali celebrations in the South East.
Inspired by the true story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the show aims to captures the opulence, colour and vibrancy of the Sikh empire in India. Accompanied by Dhol drummers and flute players, the Maharaja will enter the festival on his elephant alongside his royal entourage, wearing full authentic colourful costumes, interacting with members of the audience before bursting into a choreographed dance piece which the Maharaja’s elephant will mimic with her trunk and ears. The piece will be performed by British born Asian artists from migrant backgrounds, who will present their own interpretation of traditional Bhangra Folk dance and music.
The show is jointly produced by Cohesion Plus and Festive Road with choreography from Bill Singh and will feature renowned dance company Four by Four Bhangra. The new production will be flexible so that it can be performed at both outdoor parades and festivals and the work is being funded by Arts Council England and Milton Keynes Council.
Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented, “This is a really exciting development. I believe the show once it is fully ready will bring town centres and festivals to a standstill with its energy, vibrancy and colour. We have already spent a lot of time developing the choreography so that there is interaction between the performers, elephant and the public. This is ground breaking piece of work for us and we look forward to working in partnership with Festive Road to showcasing it around festivals in the UK.”
Martine Frost, Executive Director at Festive Road stated, “This is a great opportunity for us to merge our visual art form with a choreographed performance element to create a show which we believe will leave a lasting impact on those who have the opportunity to witness it. This is a new partnership for us with Cohesion Plus and we look forward to working with them to make our vision a reality.”
Dartford played host to some of the largest Saint George’s Day celebrations on Tuesday 23rd April. Around 550 children from 9 local schools participated in the annual parade along with hundreds of spectators. The celebrations were organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Dartford Borough Council in what were some of the biggest celebrations taking place in England.
Dartford High Street was abuzz with activity with a number of performances on One Bell Corner including West Hill Morris, Premier Brass Band, DDFK Brass Band, Big Fish and Folkin Fusion Drumming Collective as well as Saint George themed Stilt Walkers.
The Schools began the parade from the Civic Centre and were led by North Kent resident Russell Palmer as Saint George himself. Special guests included the Mayor of Dartford Cllr David Mote and Council Leader Cllr Jeremy Kite MBE. The parade went through the Orchard Shopping Centre and onto the High Street where they were joined by a large scale dragon and hundreds of local residents. The parade stopped briefly at Memorial Gardens where the flag of Saint George was raised before moving on to Central Park where there followed a programme of entertainment which climaxed with the National Anthem.
Gurvinder Sandher, the Artistic Director for Cohesion Plus commented “It was great to see so many people come out and support the Saint George’s Day celebrations. We have always felt that the arts can have a positive impact when it comes to community cohesion and to see so many people from different faiths and backgrounds come together to celebrate the patron saint of England makes us very proud as an organisation. We very much value the ongoing supported by our partners in Dartford and feel that other parts of the country can learn about what we doing when it comes to Saint George’s Day.”
Some of the biggest celebrations in England to commemorate Saint George’s Day took place in Gravesham on Tuesday April 23rd. 500 Children from 13 local schools took part in the event which was organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Gravesham Borough Council and Arts Council England. The celebrations aim to celebrate the patron Saint of England and bring together the diverse communities of the borough.
Celebrations began in Gravesend Town Centre with performances from Hartley Morris Men, Premier Brass Band, DDFK Brass Band, Folkin Fusion Drumming Collective, Saint George themed stilt walkers who entertained large crowds and a large scale mobile Dragon.
The highlight of the celebrations was the schools parade which was led by Saint George enacted by Gravesham resident Russel Palmer. They were followed by the Mayor of Gravesham Cllr David Hurley and local dignitaries and Deputy Lord Lieutenants of Kent, Dr. Bhargwara Vasudaven.
The parade made its way from Community Square and continued up Windmill Street eventually making its way through the Thamesgate Shopping Centre arriving back on Community Square. Throughout the parade members of the public waved their flags of Saint George and encouraged the children as the parade went by. Once the parade climaxed on Community Square the 500 school children sang Happy Birthday to HM The Queen to celebrate her 93rd birthday before the flags of Saint George were raised on Community Square.
Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director for Cohesion Plus commented “The arts are a great way of bringing communities together and celebrating our shared values. The Saint George’s Day celebrations in Gravesham are a great testament to this. I was especially pleased with the diverse range of artists and communities that took part further underlining the ethos and mission of our organisation. We strive to promote a cohesive and integrated society in Kent and anyone who attended the celebrations would have seen this in action.”
Preparations are now at an advanced stage for some of the biggest Saint George’s celebrations in the South East taking place in Gravesham and Dartford on Saint George’s Day itself Tuesday April 23rd. This year 22 local schools across the 2 boroughs have been taking part in arts workshops run by arts organisation Same Sky in the lead up to the parade and will display what they have made during the parade itself. The ethos of the event is to celebrate diverse England in the context of 2019 and to educate young people about Saint George the patron Saint of England.
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “At a time of great division in our country I believe that it is important that we celebrate events like Saint George’s Day as there is more that bind us together as communities than divides us. I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last 10 years in Gravesham and Dartford with the celebrations and I hope like previous years that the local community will come out and wave the flag of Saint George with pride. The young people from Gravesham and Dartford who will participate in the parade have been working very hard over the past few months in preparation and this is a great example of how the arts can be used to bring people together.”
The celebrations in Gravesham will take place between 10am and 11.30am and in Dartford from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. Entertainment including Big Fish Brass Band, DDFK and Premier Brass Bands, West Hill Morris, Hartley Morris Men, Saint George’s themed Stilt Walkers, a Saint George in full armor and a large scale dragon will feature.
The annual celebrations are organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership Kent Equality Cohesion Council, supported by Gravesham Borough Council, Dartford Borough Council and Arts Council England.