Music, food and dance from around the World were on show at the 9th Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival which took place at Calverley Grounds on Sunday July 13. The event which in the last 2 years has fought to survive due to the withdrawal of all funding and support by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council attracted thousands. A collection on the day raised £657.00 which will go towards the cost of this year’s event which was organised by arts organisation Cohesion Plus, Sue Latham Events and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

The focus of this years was promoting culturally diverse artists from around Kent and those in attendance were able to enjoy performances by local Samba group Bloco Fogo who opened the Mela, followed by Phase 5 Steel Band who brought the sounds of the Caribbean to Calverley Grounds. Other performers included the Cullen Academy of Irish Dance, local Tunbridge Wells resident Jack Curtis, emerging young singers Gemma Moore and Ryan Bennett whose band had everyone up and dancing. A particular highlight was the Cohesion Plus produced Afro-Bhangra Fusion performance which featured Four by Four Bhangra and Uzambezi Arts

Away from the stage there were plenty of stalls to keep everyone occupied and an arts zone where children were able to enjoy free creative arts workshops. 

Gurvinder Sandher the CEO of Kent Equality Cohesion Council commented “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received for the Mela Festival both on the day and on social media. There is a great demand for this and I just hope there is a way of making it happen next year so we can achieve our 10th anniversary. A lot of this will depend on the good will of funders but the passion I saw for the Mela at Calverley Gardens I hope will result in more support next year so that we can make it happen. It will be a shame if it was to disappear as I believe it is unique in attracting the diverse communities of the borough to come together as one and celebrate the cohesion of Tunbridge Wells.”

Sue Latham from Sue Latham Events commented “We were very pleased with how the Mela has gone and I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped us on the day to prepare the site and clean it afterwards. I am not sure if people appreciate how many resources are required to make the Mela happen but all the hard work was worth it to hear the positive feedback from people as they were leaving and during the event itself. I just hope that we will able to save the Mela so it can happen again next year, if not at least we went out on a high.”