Category Archives: Events

Find out which events, where, when and who!

Mela Festival returns to Tunbridge Wells on July 1st

The hugely popular Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival will return to the borough on July 1st. The Mela Festival is now in its 13th year and takes place in Calverley Grounds between 12.30 pm and 6.30 pm. The Mela is organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England. Other partners include The Mela Partnership and the Tunbridge Wells Round Table. The Mela Festival celebrates the diversity and cohesion of the borough through music, food and dance.

As in previous years, the Mela Festival promises to be a great free day out for the family. This year’s stage programme boasts a range of leading culturally diverse artists with an international flavour including Anaconda Belly Dance, Syrian duo Jamal and Alaa and African troupe Drumbeat. They will be joined by local artists including Ukelear Fall Out, The Paul Dunton Orchestra, Jack Curtis and Sahrudaya – The Kent Keralites.

The Cohesion Plus produced Folkin Fusion Collective will also be performing a unique fusion of street dance, dhol and djembe drumming for the first time on stage.

The headliners for the day will be International Bhangra Superstar PBN and renowned Bruno Mars tribute act Mars Live who promise to have the crowds singing and dancing by the days end!

The off stage activity will be just as colourful. Highlights include the Chinese Dancing Lions who will be looking to make mischief, performing amongst the audience. Mela festival goers will also have a chance to help find Auntie’s missing shoe during the course of an interactive show called Chappal, The Case of the Missing Sandal’. This particular show has been created working with the Mela Partnership and Nutkhut. In addition there will be a creative arts zone where LV21 will be delivering free workshops.

Alongside the exciting artistic programme, there will be a food zone where there will be countless delicious dishes from around the World for audiences to enjoy including Thai, Indian, Greek, Chinese and British food as well as Ice Cream, Donuts and Fudge. No festival is complete without a cold beverage so Fuggles Beer Café will be serving craft alcohol from around the Globe.

Gurvinder Sandher the Mela Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am so proud to have been involved with the delivery of the Mela since its inception. The Mela Festival gets bigger and better every year and I am really pleased with what we have put together this year. We have a great artistic line up both on and off stage. A lot of time and thought has gone into this as we wanted to showcase some really great culturally diverse work. The Mela is great family day out and we hope the communities of Tunbridge Wells will come out and support us as they have done in previous years.”

Saint George Day 2018

Some of the biggest celebrations for Saint George’s Day nationally will be taking place in Gravesham and Dartford on Monday April 23rd, bringing together diverse communities from the two boroughs to celebrate the Patron Saint of England. The festivities have been organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Gravesham Borough Council, Dartford Borough Council and Arts Council England.

Gurvinder Sandher Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “We have had the privilege to organise some great Saint George’s Day celebrations in Gravesham and Dartford over many years and this year is no exception. I am always humbled by how well received the events are as it’s such an excellent example of communities coming together to celebrate our shared values. I genuinely believe that other parts of the country can learn about how we use Saint George’s Day and the arts as a means of bringing diverse communities together as a symbol of unity.”

In the build up to the day 21 local schools and some 1100 young people will benefit from creative arts workshops as they prepare for the parades which will be the highlight of the celebrations in the boroughs.

The celebrations in Gravesham will take place between 9.45am and 11.30am and in Dartford between 12.45pm and 2.30pm. Entertainment will include music from Premier Brass Band, Brass Volcanoes, Cohesion Plus produced ‘Folkin Fusion African and Asian Drumming Collective, West Hill Morris, and Saint George himself as well as a large scale dragon called Gwynhaff.

7 schools in Dartford and 14 schools in Gravesham are taking part in the celebrations. All the schools have been working with Same Sky Arts in the build up to the event. Gurvinder the Artistic Director has been organising the celebrations in North Kent since 2008 with a small team of volunteers

Dartford St Georges Day poster click to enlarge.

Gravesham St Georges Day poster click to enlarge.

Cohesion Plus Programme Outline for 2018

Cohesion Plus who will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018 are proud to announce an exciting programme of culturally diverse festivals in Kent throughout the year. Our festival programme will run from April to November and highlights include the Saint George’s Day celebrations in the spring, the Mela Festivals in the summer and Lantern Parades in the autumn.

The outline schedule is below;

  • April 23rd St George’s Day Celebrations Gravesend
  • April 23rd St George’s Day Celebrations Dartford
  • June 16th Fusion Street Festival Gravesend
  • July 1st Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival
  • July 22nd Maidstone Community Mela (Subject to Funding)
  • October 5th Wrotham Festival of Light
  • October 12th Swale Fusion Festival (Subject to Funding)
  • October 19th Dartford Festival of Light
  • November 16th Gravesham Festival of Light

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director “We are looking forward to a big year in 2018 with a range of culturally diverse festivals around Kent, showcasing not only excellence in the arts but also how arts can be used to bring communities together and celebrate our shared values. We are also working on some exciting commissions which will appear under the Folkin Fusion banner at the festivals. We are grateful to the support we have received to date from artists, volunteers, local authority partners and Arts Council England which has allowed us to get to where we have in the space of 10 years.”

The BIG Seven-0 is coming!

Cohesion Plus are delighted to be working with Same Sky and Crawley Borough Council on The BIG Seven-0, Crawley’s flagship 70th birthday event, which takes place in the town centre on Saturday 25 November from 1.30-6pm.

Independent artists and community groups have been exploring the cultural heritage of the town – past, present and future – working with Cohesion Plus and Same Sky. Schools and community partners including Oriel High School, Our Lady Queen of Heaven and The Foyer have been amongst the organisations involved in the build-up.

This major, family event, funded by Arts Council England, will include a colourful carnival-style parade featuring local artists, bands and community groups. It will celebrate the diversity of Crawley followed by an exciting stage programme, lights and a firework finale in the Memorial Gardens.

The parade route around the town centre goes from The Broadway, then the Historic High Street before finishing in the Memorial Gardens. With up to 400 people participating, plus dancers and drummers, it promises to be a fantastic spectacle.

The stage will feature local and professional artists, headlined by renowned Ed Sheeran tribute act Jack Shepherd as well as performances by Mark Lees, Ace Academy of Irish Dance, Four by Four Bhangra Dancers, Drumbeats African Drumming and Versme Lithuanian Folklore Dance Group. The festival will be opened by Falco and the Hawks Jazz Blues.

A community marquee will house stalls for community groups and there will be food stalls along Queensway.

For further information please visit www.crawleybigseven0.co.uk

Gravesham Festival of Christmas Lights

Some 1500 people participated in the Gravesham Festival of Christmas Lights on Friday 17th November which incorporated the switching on the town’s Christmas Lights. The celebrations were organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council and Gravesham Borough Council supported by Arts Council England.

10 local schools took part in a lantern parade led by the Mayor of Gravesham, Councillor Harold Craske along with representatives from various faith and community organisations as well as street entertainers Bloco Fogo Samba, Brass Volcanoes, the Drumming Santa’s and the Black Knights. All the schools worked with Same Sky in the build up to the parade to create special lanterns which were showcased during the event.

The parade started at Community Square and then travelled down Windmill Street, New Road, through the St Georges Shopping Centre before finishing at Gravesham Borough Market. The Christmas Lights were switched on in the Town Centre as the parade passed by.

The climax of the celebrations took place in the Gravesham Borough Market where the Cohesion Plus produced “Drumming Santa’s” performed bringing a unique fusion of Christmas tunes to Bhangra and African drumming to entertain and wow the crowds. This was a new production co-produced with Bill Singh and Lucky Moyo. It underlined the whole ethos of Cohesion Plus namely using the arts to break down barriers and push artistic boundaries.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who led on the organisation of the event commented “I was overwhelmed by the positive response we had to the celebrations on Friday. Christmas is always a special time of year for everyone and to see so many people from diverse backgrounds participating in the celebrations was wonderful. I believe passionately that the arts are an excellent way of bringing communities together and this was an excellent example of this. I have said previously that other parts of the country can learn from the work that we do here in Kent as it is important to celebrate all that binds us together in local communities. We have had a positive response to the Drumming Santa’s production something I am very proud of and hope we can take the show on the road in 2018.