Thousands attended the Tunbridge Wells Mela in Calverley Grounds on Sunday July 19. Organised by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Cohesion Plus and North West Kent Racial Equality Council, with the support of a Mela Project Steering Group, the aim of the event was to bring the communities of Tunbridge Wells together through music, food and dance. The event was part funded by Arts Council England.
During the first part of the day, visitors were treated to a range of acts, including a combination of traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music from Zimbaremabwe, a specially commissioned Dhol and Dhaki Fusion performance by Four by Four and Mahua Arts, dance by St Paul’s Rusthall Primary School and folk rock from around the globe performed by the Hot Rats.
Performances in the second half of the day included a fusion of traditional bhangra with contemporary pop and hip hop beats from B21, sounds of the Caribbean from the Phase 5 Steel Band, Four by Four Bhangra Group, and the Latin Fusion of Casabella.
In addition to the colourful stage programme there were an array of stalls ranging from Indian, to Chinese to British to East European food as well as an array of information stands including Kent Police, Kent Fire Rescue and Service and the Environment Agency.
Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Cohesion Plus said:
‘I was very pleased with how the Mela went. Months of hard work have gone into pulling everything together and I would like to pay tribute to all the partners for their commitment and effort in making this happen. Particular highlights for me were the performances by Zimbaremabwe, B21 and Casabella. It was so pleasing to see a range of culturally diverse artists and music styles on stage and the poor weather did not put people off. I felt the artistic content this year was the strongest to date which was due to the funding we received from Arts Council England and I look forward to working with our partners to ensure the Mela is even more of a success next year. ’
Bhota Jagpal from B21 commented:
‘We perform all over the UK and I was so pleased that at this Mela there were different communities and cultures mixing together, joining in and having fun. We had a really positive response to our performance from the audience, the majority of whom would not have even heard our music before, and I look forward to coming back to Tunbridge Wells again in the very near future.’
Cllr Catherine Mayhew, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, said:
‘This year’s Mela was once again a resounding success and members of the steering group were invaluable in making it so, helping with distributing posters and leaflets and encouraging local people to be enthused. The Tunbridge Wells Mela provided the perfect opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate diversity in a fun and fascinating way.’
Here are some photos from the event.