Cohesion Plus was delighted to be one of the partners for the Connect Kent Project which also featured Kent County Council, Gravesham Borough Council, LV21, Strange Cargo and Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company. This project arose through the work of the Kent Cultural Transformation Board celebrating the Turner Prize coming to Kent and was jointly funded by Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Gravesham Borough Council.
The project was to connect the communities of Kent through the arts. Cohesion Plus’ specific role was to deliver artistic activity in areas which traditionally had some of the lowest participation in the arts in Kent. Between October and December, Cohesion Plus curated culturally diverse performances and delivered school workshops in Gravesham, Swale, Medway and Ashford.
The project climaxed in Margate in December where all partners showcased their programme of activity as well as sharing the feedback from the general public around what the arts meant to them individually whilst the performances and workshops took place. Cohesion Plus created an exhibition from their curated performances which was on display during the event.
During the course of the project Cohesion Plus worked with 4 schools in the lead up the finale of the project engaging with over 170 young people of which 57 had special needs, offering Punjabi or African Music and Dance workshops. In addition Cohesion Plus produced 4 performances working with Four by Four Bhangra and the Kings of Dhol which resulted in over 56,000 views across our social media platforms, as well as nearly 12,000 likes.
Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented, “We were really pleased to be a part of this project which worked across Kent. It is always positive to work with new partners and allows us to both share ideas and learn new practice from others. I was really pleased with the positive feedback we received in and around Kent as we delivered our element of the project and I am excited about some of the new contacts we have made especially in East Kent which will allow us to further develop our networks and artistic practice in 2020 and beyond.”
The ever popular Gravesham Festival of Christmas Lights brought Gravesend Town Centre to a spectacular halt on Friday 22nd November as the borough launched its Christmas celebrations. The festival was organised by Cohesion Plus and Gravesham Borough Council and proved to be one of the biggest to date.
13 local schools and some 3,500 attendees enjoyed the lantern parade which was led by the amazing Harminder the elephant and the Cohesion Plus Drumming Santas who fused traditional Dhol beats from North India with popular Christmas songs. Further entertainment was provided by Bloco Fogo Samba, Fat Cat Brass, DDFK Brass Band and the Knights Academy. The Mayor of Gravesham, Councillor Gurdip Bungar along with Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Dymond and representatives from various faith and community organisations also took part including Hedley Swain, South East Area Director for Arts Council England.
The colourful lantern parade started on Community Square, made its way down the High Street, through King Street into St George’s Shopping Centre before arriving back at Community Square via Windmill Street. The Christmas lights were switched on in the Town Centre as the parade passed by.
The celebrations climaxed on Community Square where the Christmas tree lights were switched on following a countdown led by the Mayor of Gravesham.
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am really proud of what we have been able to achieve this year in the borough working in partnership with Gravesham Borough Council and supported by Arts Council England. Christmas is a special time for everyone regardless of faith and what this event showcased is how the arts can bring communities together and why it is so important to have events like this, to celebrate what binds us rather than what divides us. Moving forward we will continue to look to innovate and push artistic boundaries as we strive to create art that engages and inspires.
Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Gravesham Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Arts Council England have organised the Gravesham Festival of Christmas Lights which will take place on Friday November 22nd between 3.45pm and 5.30pm.
Entertainment will be kicking off at 3.45pm in the Town Centre. Crowds can expect street entertainers performing a number of different genres of music including Brass with a pop twist and vibrant Samba as well as the popular Drumming Santa’s accompanied by a life size mobile elephant called Harminder who will be lit up as part of the festive season!
Around 600 school children from 13 local schools will then take part in a lantern parade led by the Mayor of Gravesham Councillor Gurdip Bungar. The schools have been working with Same Sky Arts on Christmas Lanterns which they will showcase during the parade. The procession will start from Community Square at 4.30pm and make its way through town, with the Christmas lights being switched on as the parade passes by.
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “We are really looking forward to the Christmas Parade and Light switch on this year. For many it’s a cherished time of year and as such, a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes and in the build-up to the event. We believe the Festival of Christmas Lights is the perfect platform to showcase how the arts can bring communities together to celebrate all that binds us together in the Town regardless of faith and background. As ever we are very grateful for the ongoing support provided by Arts Council England and Gravesham Borough Council which allow our artistic vision to become a reality.”
Bright lantern lights, playful Chinese lions, musicians on stilts and festival sounds came to Dartford town centre for the annual Dartford Festival of Light which took place on Friday 18th October. The festival was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Dartford Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council. The aim of the festival was to celebrate what binds the communities together in Dartford. It also showcased the excellent work being done by young people from across the Borough through the arts promoting the values of respect, excellence, friendship and equality.
Some 2,000 people attended the festival and enjoyed the sights and sounds as musical performances from the likes of the Kings of Dhol, stilt walking musicians Fat Cat Brass and the Chinese Lions took place in One Bell Corner. Bloco Fogo Samba welcomed commuters with their signature festival sounds as they pulled into Dartford Train Station before joining the lantern parade once it reached the Orchard Theatre.
The lantern parade was made up 8 local schools, members of the community and performers which was led by the Deputy Mayor Cllr Rosanna Currans, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Kelvin Holford and KCC Chairman Cllr Ann Allen. One of the highlights was the spectacular travelling lotus flower produced by Nutkhut which lit up the parade and played Bollywood pop songs as it went by. The parade departed from One Bell Corner, went via Hythe Street and Suffolk Road into the Orchards Shopping Centre, left out on to the High Street and then turned right at the Holy Trinity Church heading back towards Central Park. The festival climaxed with a spectacular free fireworks display finale.
Gurvinder Sandher, the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus added, “The Festival of Light is now in its 11th year and I’m so proud of what we are able to achieve here in Dartford year upon year. I am so humbled that the communities of the borough always come and support come rain or shine making the festival of light an integral event of Dartford’s event calendar. Through the arts we get to celebrate the importance of respect, excellence, friendship and equality which are values no less vital and necessary year after year, bringing communities together. As always I am grateful to our partners Dartford Borough Council and the network of local schools that we have worked closely with over the years.”
Despite the wet weather Sittingbourne Town Centre was awash with colour and lights with over 2,500 participating in the 3rd Swale Fusion Festival of Light. The aim of the festival was to use the arts to bring communities together and celebrate the values of respect, excellence, friendship and equality. The festival was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Swale Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.
The Festival kicked off on Sittingbourne High Street with spectacular performances from Bloco Fogo Samba who brought their signature carnival beats to the proceedings as well as a show stopping performance from the Folk in Fusion Drumming Collective and Fat Cat Brass. Also attending for the first time was Oscar the Fox, a large scale mobile art installation who wowed and interacted with the crowds.
People lined the route as the colourful lantern parade passed by. It featured 13 local schools that all benefited from free creative arts workshops in the build-up which were led by Same Sky, Ideas Test and Big Fish Arts. In addition free music and dance workshops were also delivered in a number of local schools as part of the Platforma Festival as well as a free lantern making workshop for community members which proved to be popular additions to the festival.
The parade made its way along the High Street, through Roman Square and climaxed at Albany Park which was specially decorated for the evening with winter themed lights and installations. In the park the audience was entertained by the SFM Road Show and a spectacular firework finale.
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am really proud of what we have achieved in Swale over the last 3 years. Swale has traditionally had low levels of engagement in the arts but what we have shown especially this year is, that if you get the offer right, there is an appetite amongst the community to get involved. Year upon year the number of schools and community partners has increased and we already have a lot of ideas for next year. I think it is important to be ambitious artistically and to continue to strive to push boundaries as much as we can within the funding environment we are working in. I am very grateful to Awards for All, Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council for their contribution towards the festivities as well as our artistic partners Same Sky, Ideas Test, Big Fish and Platforma Festival.”