Mela attendees turned out in large numbers with over 3,000 people attending the much loved Maidstone Community Mela in Mote Park on Sunday September 19th. The free community festival which celebrates music, food and dance from around the world was delivered by Kent Equality Cohesion Council working in partnership with the Maidstone Cultural Group, the Maidstone Mela Advisory Group and was produced by KECC’s sister organisation Cohesion Plus who specialize in large scale arts events. The Mela was funded by Arts Council England, Maidstone Borough Council and Unison.
The stage programme offered an array of diverse talent showcasing various arts forms such as Samba music, Irish dance, Punjabi percussion as well as Grime Rap and Choir singing. Malayalee, Nepalese and other South West Indian cultures were also showcased through music, food and dance.
Key partners such as Kent Police, Victim Support, Unison, Adult Education Service, Involve Kent and the Maidstone Dawn Patrol Rotary Club were also in attendance engaging with those present and off stage arts workshops were also available to children and young families.
The Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Fay Gooch was in attendance along with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Bill Cockcroft DL and Cllr Martin Round Chair of Economic Regeneration & Leisure Committee, they all spoke from the stage about how pleased they were to see the Mela back in Mote Park after a 6 year absence and the importance of having events like this in the borough.
Gurvinder Sandher the Mela producer commented: “I have proudly been involved with the Mela since its inception back in 2003. The Mela has always been a wonderful way to engage with the culturally diverse communities of Maidstone, providing a valuable platform for diverse art forms and traders. I am even more proud to say that this year we were able to return to the birthplace of the Mela and thanks to the partnership with Maidstone Borough Council, Mote Park once again became the site for the event to take place. It is so gratifying to receive praise for the Mela from members of the community. For many audience members it was their first big outdoor event they had attended since the start of the pandemic which is a great testament to the appeal of the Mela. I would like to give special thanks to our key partners who attended and supported us in the lead up and on the day itself including Kent Police, Unison, Victim Support and Adult Education Service. Community events are that much more valuable and enriching when you have the buy in and support of local authority, statutory, community and charity sector partners. We look forward to next year’s event which we have already begun planning!”