Tag Archives: Arts Council England

Tunbridge Wells Mela Proves a Hit

The 14th Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival proved to be a big hit with the local community with thousands attending and enjoying the festivities in Calverley Grounds.

The Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England and celebrates the diversity and cohesion of the borough through music, food and dance.

One of the highlights of the Festival was the “Dancing Maharajas” show which saw the crowd wooed by a life size elephant walking through the crowd joined by an entourage of singers, dancers and drummers. The show produced by Cohesion Plus and Festive Road featuring Four by Four Bhangra aimed to capture the opulence, colour and vibrancy of the Sikh Empire in India and was very well received by the audience.

Other highlights included performance by local Tunbridge Wells Groups Fireflies who opened the Mela Festival, Just Dance a group of primary school aged children who performed a fusion of Hollywood and Bollywood, Sahrudaya who performed music and dance from South India, and the ever popular Paul Dunton Orchestra.

Artists from a further afield included the Sussex Syrian Trio who brought the sounds of the Middle East to the event, the energetic Dance Asia who had everyone up and dancing, DDFK Brass Fusion who played a string on popular hits and Common Denominator who performed classic reggae hits.

Off stage there were also lots of activity for those attending to enjoy including free aerial workshops, arts and crafts activity and an array of food stalls serving culinary delights. There were food stalls from North and South India, Caribbean, Thailand and Greece as well as ice creams, donuts and fudge whilst the Tunbridge Wells Forum Bar served craft alcohol from around the Globe. The response was really positive in the food zone with many stalls selling out.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “Anyone who knows about the Mela Festival in Tunbridge Wells will know that I have been involved from the start. Each year we work very hard on the artistic programme showcasing local, national and international artists both on and off stage and I really pleased with what we were able to achieve. Our stage programme had a range of genres including Bollywood and Bhangra which you would expect at a Mela but also Brass, Reggae, Pop, Syrian Folk which you would not. Off stage we had a range of arts activities for young people to enjoy and the overall feedback has been positive. The support that we receive from the local community and Arts Council England has really allowed us to be more ambitious with our programming and cultural offer.”

Mela Festival returns to Tunbridge Wells on July 7th

The hugely popular Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival will return to the borough on July 7th. The Mela Festival is now in its 14th year and takes place in Calverley Grounds between 12.30 pm and 6.30 pm. The Mela which is organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England 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 flavor including Dance Asia, Sahrudaya West Kent Karalites Sussex Syrian Trio and DDFK Brass Fusion. They will be joined by local favorites Fireflies, Just Dance and the Paul Dunton Orchestra.

The Mela Festival headliners are the Cohesion Plus and Festive Road produced “Dancing Maharajas” featuring Four by Four Bhangra and Common Denominator who will be performing classic reggae hits.

The off stage activity will be just as colourful. Highlights include Airheadz who will be providing free aerial workshops for young people and LV21 who will be delivering free arts 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.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “The Mela Festival in Tunbridge Wells is a great example of the arts bringing communities together, showcasing all that binds us together as residents of Kent. I am really pleased with the artistic programme we have created both on and off stage and am looking forward to the response we will get to our new show the “Dancing Maharajas”. It will be the first time that the Dancing Maharajas will be performed in an enclosed festival format and the show has been adapted to make it more interactive with the audience. We work very hard to raise the funds to put the Mela Festival on and look forward to welcoming the community of Tunbridge Wells to Calverley Grounds on July 7th.”

Fusion Festival Lights up Gravesend Town Centre

The colourful and vibrant Cohesion Plus produced Fusion Festival came to Gravesend Town Centre on Saturday June 15. The pop up street festival showcased a range of artists and art forms including a roaming elephant, dancing lions, mime artists, samba, bhangra, brass, choir and calypso.

The aim of the festival was to bring culturally diverse arts to the heart of local communities and to showcase new performances especially in an area like Gravesham which has had traditionally low levels of engagement with the arts.

The Festival also saw the premiere of Cohesion Plus’s new production working with Festive Road the “Dancing Maharaja’s” which brought the Town Centre to a standstill. The show features a large colourful elephant accompanied by an entourage of bhangra dancers and dhol drummers from Four by Four Bhangra. The show was part processional and part static performance with lots of interaction with the crowd.

Other highlights included performances by Bloco Fogo Samba, No Street Limit Band, Dancing Chinese Lions and the Rock Choir as well as stilt walkers, mime artists and LV21 who delivered interactive arts workshops for young people.

The festival was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, and was supported by Gravesham Borough Council and Arts Council England.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus “There was a real positive vibe in the town centre during the Fusion Festival and I am very proud of what we achieved. I believe strongly that the arts is a great way of bringing communities together and the Fusion Festival is an example of this. We had some great culturally diverse artists performing from different genres and the response to the Dancing Maharajas show was excellent.”

Gravesham Fusion Festival 2019

The popular street based Fusion Festival 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 street artists and art forms to the heart of the local community with performances taking place around the Town Centre including on the High Street, King Street, new Road as well as in Gravesend Borough Market and Windmill Street.

Highlights include Gravesend based No Limit Street Band, Bloco Fogo Samba, Chinese Lions, The Rock Choir, Phase 5 Steel Band and an array of street performers including stilt walkers and human statues. The Festival will also see the premiere of Cohesion Plus’s new production working with Festive Road called the “Dancing Maharaja’s” which will feature a large colourful elephant accompanied by an entourage of dancers and drummers.

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.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Festival Producer “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 brings an exciting array of culturally diverse performers into the heart of Gravesend transforming the town into a hive of creative activity. We hope the local community will come down and enjoy what promises to be an amazing day out.”

New Dancing Maharajas Production for 2019

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.”