Tag Archives: Maidstone Nepalese Community Group

Cohesion Plus produced Maidstone Community Mela 2019 a great success!

The Maidstone Community Mela in Whatman Park again proved to be popular with over 3000 attending the annual celebration of music, food and dance from around the world. The Mela which is organised by a small group of community partners and volunteers led by Kent Equality Cohesion Council, the Maidstone Cultural Group and produced by Cohesion Plus has proven to be popular in the borough since 2003 despite the many challenges it has faced over recent years.

The celebrations were formally launched by the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Marian Ring, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Bill Cockcroft and Cohesion Plus Artistic Director Gurvinder Sandher. Those in attendance enjoyed a range of culturally diverse performances including Kent based Phase 5 Steel Band, Folk Band Ukelear Fallout, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Maidstone Malayalee Group and Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance Troupe.

A Particular highlight was the Cohesion Plus produced Folkin Fusion Collective a high energy show bringing together music and dance from North India and Southern Africa which featured Four by Four Bhangra and Uzambezi Arts. The Mela was headlined by the Kings of Motown who had everyone up and dancing to the classic Motown hits.

Whilst off stage the arts activity continued with interactive performances by the Chinese Lions, interactive workshops in the World in the Tent which focused on Nepalese and Roma culture and heritage, and for the younger members of the audience there were free arts workshops delivered by LV21.

The food stalls also proved to be very popular with Indian, Chinese, Nepalese cuisines being served alongside burgers, doughnuts and hot dogs with many selling out whilst the Prosecco bar also did brisk trade.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented: “I am very proud of what we achieved in Maidstone this year working with Maidstone Cultural Group and our community partners. People do not always appreciate how small the team is that puts the Mela on, but all the hard work is worthwhile when you get so many people turning up and supporting us. Our programme showcased a range of culturally diverse acts from around Kent which we as an organisation are committed and I was really pleased with the response we received to the Afro Bhangra Fusion which we will be touring around Kent this summer.”

The Maidstone Community Mela returns!

Preparations are nearly complete for the Maidstone Community Mela which will be returning on Sunday 14th July at Whatman Park between 12.30pm and 6pm. The Mela is produced by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council and the Maidstone Cultural Group. The Community Mela is a great celebration of culturally diverse art and showcases a range of Kent based artists.

The stage programme features folk band Ukelear Fallout, rapper Bando Black, Phase 5 Steel Band and the Chinese Dancing Lions. A number of Maidstone based acts will also be performing including the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, the Maidstone Malayalee Group and Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance.

A particular highlight will be the Cohesion Plus produced Folkin Fusion Afro-Bhangra performance which brings together music and dance from North India and Southern Africa to create a unique show featuring the ever popular Four by Four Bhangra, Bill Singh and Lucky Moyo. The Community Mela will be headlined by the renowned Kings of Motown who will be performing Motown classics along with their signature dance moves.

Off stage there will be a wealth of activity including the World in a Tent featuring Nepalese and Roma culture and heritage, free creative arts workshops, food from around the world as well as for the first time a prosecco and beer bar.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented: “I am really proud of the artistic programme we have on offer this year both on and off stage. The Maidstone Community Mela is very close to my heart as this was the first event that Cohesion Plus produced and despite the challenges of recent years we have managed working with local community groups to keep the Mela alive. I’ve always said that the arts is a great way to bring diverse communities together and the Maidstone Community Mela is an excellent example of this.”

Maidstone Community Mela Returns with a Bang!

Following months of hard work and endless fundraising the Maidstone Community Mela returned to Whatman Park on Sunday 22nd July for another sun soaked day of music, food and dance. The Mela which has taken place in Maidstone since 2003 was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, local partners and volunteers.

The event was officially opened by Maidstone’s Mayor Cllr David Naghi and Helen Grant MP who talked about the importance of the Mela and also paid tribute to the late Morel D’Souza, the founder of the Maidstone Mela by presenting a commemorative plaque to his wife Karin D’Souza. Gurvinder Sandher, the Artistic Director of the Community Mela went on to speak about Mr. D’Souza’s extensive community work and his wish for an event that brought the diverse communities of the borough together to celebrate their own uniqueness and shared British values.

The Community Mela presented music, food and dance from around the world accompanied by a diverse stage programme which included acts such as Dance Asia, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Reel Eire Irish Dancers, Brazilian trio Lambrego and Cohesion Plus’s own production the Folkin Fusion Drumming Collective. The event was headlined by world renowned Bob Marley tribute act Tanni Browne who performed the famous hits of the legendary reggae star.

Off stage there was also a vibrant interactive performance from Kudos Combat’s Chinese Lions who caused mischief amongst the crowds. Activities also included creative arts workshops and information stands from a range of partners such as Kent Police, Unison, Gullands and National Citizens Service. There were also cuisines from all around the world for event comers to enjoy ranging from Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, and German to freshly prepared juices and desserts.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus: “Finding the funds to deliver the beloved Community Mela has been an uphill struggle to say the least however we were determined to the bring the event back to Maidstone and judging by the attendance and support we have received we were right to do so. The Maidstone Community Mela is very close to my heart as it is our longest running event and to me it is about bringing the communities of the borough together, celebrating our shared values and the positive community relations we enjoy. The Community Mela has suffered some setbacks over the past couple of years such as the lack of financial support and recently the loss of its founder Mr. D’Souza however, valuable support has been provided by local community groups and volunteers to who we are incredibly grateful to. Their support bolstered our drive to not only deliver the Mela but to make sure it was the best it could be and I believe we have achieved this.”

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