Tag Archives: Kitka

Gravesham Fusion Festival Hailed a Success

Sun, Jazz, Calypso, Bhangra, Bollywood, Irish Dance, Eastern European Folk and street art were on the menu at the Fusion Festival which took place across Gravesend Town Centre on Saturday June 17, proving to be popular with shoppers. They were able to witness a range of performances at key locations in the Town Centre including the Market, Clock Tower, High Street, Windmill Street, New Road and King Street. The aim of the festival was to bring together the communities of the borough through music, dance and visual arts and celebrate all that binds us together. The festival was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Gravesham Borough Council and Arts Council England.

The weekend of the festival also marked the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox MP and this was marked up and down the Country with a series of events under the umbrella of “The Great Get Together”. As part of the Festival a special event took place in the Gravesend Market which was attended by the Mayor of Gravesham Cllr Harold Craske along with members of the local community who brought along different food to share.

Performers at the festival included the Bollywood Brass Band, Four by Four Bhangra, Reel Eire Dance, Electric Cabaret Street Artists, Phase 5 Steel Band, Kitka Bulgarian Folk, Jazz Swingtett and the Nutkhut Stilt Walkers. Free visual arts workshops also took place for young people in the Town Centre which were led by LV21. The festival also saw the first performance of the new Cohesion Plus Production “Bhangrawood” which was performed by the Bollywood Brass and Four by Four Bhangra. The production is a unique collaboration which showcases the genres of Bollywood and Bhangra through street performance and also celebrates 2017 being the UK-India Year of Culture.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I was very pleased with the response that we have had to the Fusion Festival. This was a new departure for us to organise a pop up street festival and it was so pleasing to see the smiles on people’s faces as the performances took place and the feedback we received from members of the public. I am keen to build upon this year’s success next year and make the event even bigger so that we can attract people from further afield. Our new production of Bhangrawood also had its first outing and the feedback we have had is very encouraging and is an example of how our work has evolved over the years.”

Maidstone Street Mela

Music, dance, food from around the world took centre stage in Maidstone Town Centre on Sunday September 11th. The Maidstone Street Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Maidstone Borough Council and part funded by Arts Council England with entertainment taking place in Jubilee Square, Fremlin Walk and Weak Street. The event was officially launched the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Malcom Greer and featured exciting performances including the Four by Four Bhangra Dancers, Reel Eire Irish Dancers, Phase 5 Steel Band, Wolf’s Head Morris, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance Group, Ronak Mela Bollywood Brass Band and the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group.

In addition there were free creative art workshops for children making badges and hats around the theme of the Mela which were delivered by LV21 and Same Sky Arts. The street mime artists, stilt walkers, human statues also proved very popular with the crowds as they toured the Town Centre.

According to Gurvinder Sandher from Cohesion Plus who organised the artistic element of the Street Mela, “I’ve been involved with the Mela since its inception in 2003 and have watched it grow over the years. I hope that next year we will be able to return to Mote Park but understand and appreciate there is a process that we need to go through. In that context I was pleased to be able to arrange something although much smaller than previous years in Maidstone to celebrate music and dance from around the world. The feedback we received on the artistic content for the street Mela was positive and I hope to use this model of arts delivery in other parts of Kent. I look forward to working with Maidstone Borough Council and partners on the future evolution of the Mela here in Maidstone working in partnership with the local community.”

Alongside the entertainment Maidstone Borough Council ran a consultation on the future direction of the Mela and other community events. The consultation will continue through to mid-October, and it will form the basis of a report to the Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee later this year.

Maidstone Mela Again Proves Popular

Despite the poor weather thousands attended the 13th Maidstone Mela in Mote Park. The Mela has since its inception has been held on the second Sunday of September and has attracted a huge following and this year was no exception. The event was organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus, Mela Steering Group and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

The free festival celebrates the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance and provided an excellent showcase not just for artists performing on the stage but also for stall holders including food outlets, local charities and community groups.

The stage programme ran from 12.30pm to 6.30pm and was officially opened by the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Daniel Moriarty and included a range of culturally diverse acts including popular local band The Choos, Kitka a Bulgarian Folk Dance Troupe who went into the audience and got them to join in with their routine and the Kerala Cultural Association who performed some popular South Indian Dance. They were followed by the award winning Reel Eire Irish dance troupe, drama group GDS who previewed their forthcoming show at the Hazlitt Theatre and Anaconda who performed a series of traditional belly dances.

In the second half of the programme local vocal trio Imminent again proved to be a hit. There was some further Eastern European flavour with the popular Polish folk group Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels) performing, before the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group took to the stage to perform a number of traditional dances. The colourful and energetic Four by Four Bhangra Group had everyone up and dancing and copying their bhangra moves before the Mela was finished by the Trenchtown Experience who performed the hits of reggae legend Bob Marley and had the audiences singing along to his popular hits.

In addition to the stage programme there was over 50 stalls ranging from food from around the world to local charity and information stands as well as interactive arts workshops.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am very pleased that working in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council that we were able to deliver another excellent Mela. I was delighted to see so many people come out in the poor weather to enjoy what has become one of the largest culturally diverse celebrations in Kent. Great credit needs to be given not only to Maidstone Borough Council but all the volunteers who have helped make the Mela the success it has become today. When we started all those years ago we could never imagine how big the Mela would become in Maidstone. “

To view the film of this event go to the Event Films page

Maidstone Mela Returns for 13th Year!

The popular Maidstone Mela – one of the largest Melas in the South East – will return to Mote Park for its 13th year on Sunday 13 September. The free festival is a celebration of the borough’s cultural diversity and local talent, with food, music and dance from around the world. Entertainment starts at 12:30pm, with the final act finishing at 6:30pm.

Exciting culturally diverse artists performing at the Mela include local band The Choos, Bulgarian Folk Dance Group Kitka, Dancers from the Kerala Cultural Association, popular Irish group Real Eire Dance, drama group GDS Productions, and Anaconda an award winning belly dance troupe specialising in Egyptian, Bolly, Romany, Tribal and Fusion. They will be joined by up and coming local trio Imminent, Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels), an exciting Polish folk group who will bring a flavour of Eastern Europe to the Mela, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group who have supported and performed at every Mela since its inception and the colourful and dynamic Four by Four Bhangra Dancers. Headlining the stage will be The Trenchtown Experience, an 8 piece band dedicated to the music of reggae legend Bob Marley.

In addition to the stage programme, visitors can try food from across the globe, explore craft and clothing stalls, and find out more about local charities and community groups to get involved with.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am proud that we have been involved with every Mela since it started. I could never have envisaged all those years ago that the Mela would have grown like it has. We are very pleased with the culturally diverse stage programme we have with the majority of the acts from and around Maidstone, and we hope the local community will come out as it has in previous years to support this fantastic showcase of culturally diverse arts and food. Much credit needs to be given to Maidstone Borough Council for their ongoing support for the Mela.”

The event has been organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Poster Imminent

Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival Proves to be Popular

The 10th Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival which celebrated the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance at Calverley Grounds proved to be popular with the local community. The Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus Kent, Sue Latham Events and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

A range of culturally diverse artists performed at the Mela including the Bollywood Brass Band, Four by Four Bhangra Group, Bloco Fogo Samba Group, Bulgarian folk dance group Kitka, local band Sean Fennessey and Friends, popular Bangladeshi star Nurjahan Shilpi, African ensemble Uzambezi, the Paul Dunton Orchestra, bellydancng troupe Anaconda and leading Ed Sheeran tribute Jack Sheppard.

In addition the Cohesion Plus co-produced performance “Samba Bhangra Beats” which featured the Bollywood Brass Band, Bloco Fogo Samba, Samba Reggae Dancers and Four by Four Bhangra proved to be very popular with the audience.

Alongside the exciting stage programme there was also a creative arts zone where LV21 Arts put together the Changing Audiences piece of art, with members of the public dressing up wooden models to create an additional audience. While Eric MacLennan’s new piece of work “Voyage around my Bedroom “also proved to be very popular with people queuing to take part. In addition the popular Nutkhut Stilt Walkers had the audience up, laughing and dancing throughout the day.

In the food zone there were be dishes from around the World for everyone to enjoy and there was also a licensed bar serving alcohol from around the Globe.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “This was the 10th Mela that we have organised in partnership in Tunbridge Wells and I feel it was the most biggest and successful to date. I am very humbled by the support of the local community and the excellent reception we received on the day made all the efforts worthwhile. If this does prove to be the last Mela that we are involved with in Tunbridge Wells I am glad that we went out on such a positive note. I felt the artistic programme on and off stage was very strong and the support from Arts Council England and local community partners needs to be commended without which there would have been no Mela. ”

Sue Latham from Sue Latham Events commented “The Mela is a unique event in Tunbridge Wells and the support for it is as strong as ever as this year has shown. I am really proud of what has been achieved on such limited resources.”