Celebrating Local South Asian Arts in Coventry – The Belgrade Mela is back and BIGGER than ever!

Posted on 24 June 2016

Following in the success of the Coventry Belgrade Mela 2015, Jonquils Events in association with the Belgrade Theatre are delighted to announce the return of Coventry’s annual, one-day South Asian Arts Festival on Sat 23 July.

Showcasing Coventry’s South Asian arts, artists and arts organisations, the Coventry Belgrade Mela will see representatives from Coventry’s diverse South Asian communities come together to celebrate South Asian arts in Coventry and to provide a showcase for emerging South Asian talent in the city.

Daytime Event, 12noon – 6pm

Building on the success of last year, visitors to the Mela can again look forward to a series of free workshops showcasing the best in traditional and modern Asian arts. Shake your hips to the latest Bollywood beats, learn to play the dhol and try your hand at classical South Asian instruments with free, interactive sessions lead by experienced practitioners from across the region.

Workshops running between 12noon – 6pm in the B2 auditorium this year include: An Introduction to Yoga, Learn Bollywood Dancing, An Introduction to Bharatanatyam Dancing, Learn to play the Dhol and Classical South Asian Instruments.

Stallholders from across the South Asian community will also be on hand throughout the afternoon selling traditional artisan crafts as well as a selection of sweet and savoury food items.

Running from 11th July the Colonial Hangover exhibition builds on a teaching project undertaken at the University of Warwick. It asks students to consider how the practices of the British Empire continue to provide lenses through which British Society looks at the relationships between its many members today. The exhibition will be accompanied by a talk by Professor Matthew Watson at 5pm in the B2.

Running from 11th July in conjunction with The University of Warwick, ‘Colonial Hangover’ is a free exhibition which explores the lasting legacy of the British Empire on Indian identity today.

Also running throughout the day in the Western Learning Space, this year’s Belgrade Mela will also feature the premiere of the short, Indian film Walnut, a powerful and moving account of one man’s journey through the landscapes of dream.

New for 2016, visitors will be given the chance to relax and unwind in the Belgrade Café with free readings from classical Indian poems by Bulleh Shah and Rabindranath Tagore.

Not forgetting young visitors, this year’s family-friendly events programme will feature a range of free activities for children including face painting and a soft play area that will include ball pool, Didi cars and Happy Hoperz. For the first time this year, young visitors will be given the opportunity to learn how to read and write the alphabet in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi or Gujurati with free taster activities taking place throughout the day.

Evening Event, 6pm – 9pm

During the evening, South Asian talent from across Coventry will take to the Belgrade Main stage to showcase their various art forms and to represent the diversity of South Asian talent that exists in Coventry today. From classical Bharatanyam dancing to Dhol, Bollywood folk music to Tabla drumming, this spectacular live show will bring together the best of Coventry’s South Asian arts and artists for one night only in a highly original and exciting live showcase.

Mela Artistic Director Nasreen Akhtar Khan commented: ‘Following in the success of last year’s ‘Mela’, 2016 is shaping up to be our biggest and best year yet. The Belgrade Mela is very much a community-wide event in which all south Asian religions, cultures and communities can come together as one to enjoy their culture. By choosing to hold the Mela at one of the city’s premiere art’s venues – rather than outdoors which is the traditional setting for celebrations of this type – we hope to encourage better access to the theatre amongst Coventry’s South Asian communities. It’s also a great way for the wider Coventry community to find out more about the diversity of South Asian artists living and working in the city. All of the workshops that feature in the programme have been set up for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy, whether it’s learning how to play the ‘Dhol’ or trying your hand at Bollywood dance’.

Tickets for the evening show on the Belgrade Main stage are priced £10.75 & £12.75. Foyer stalls will be open from 12noon. Workshops will take place in B2 between 12noon and 6pm. All workshops are free to attend but must be booked in advance via Box Office.

For more information, visit the Coventry Belgrade Mela What’s On page.