The Town Centre of Sittingbourne was awash with colour, music and dance on Friday October 13th and Saturday October 14th for the first ever Swale Fusion Festival.
The festival, which was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Swale Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council focused on Sittingbourne High Street and was split into two distinct parts. Friday 13 October saw a special lantern parade featuring 8 local schools who worked with Same Sky Arts in the build-up. The lanterns were carried by the children in the parade which was led by the Mayor of Swale Cllr Colin Prescott and also featured Bloco Fogo Samba, Big Fish Arts and Folk in Beats African and Asian Drumming collective. The parade which featured around 750 people started in the High Street and finished at Albany Park which was specially decorated for the evening with lights where the evening climaxed with a firework display.
On the Saturday a specially arranged street festival took place around the High Street and Forum Shopping Centre alongside the popular Artisan Market. A range of culturally diverse performers performed at the pop up festival surprising many shoppers with their colourful and energetic performances. This included performances by Swale Sings, Four by Four Bhangra Dancers, Uzambezi African Ensemble, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dancer and Electric Cabaret street artists. In addition LV21 delivered free arts workshops on the High Street for young people.
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am really pleased with what we were able to achieve. The feedback from members of the public has been really positive, I already have some ideas for next year to try and develop on this year’s success. It is always hard when you do a Festival for the first time in a new place and there are always areas of improvement but overall I am proud of what we achieved working with local community partners and Swale Borough Council. I believe strongly that celebrating the arts is such a great way of bringing communities together and breaking down barriers.”