The London Mela has reinvented Mela outside of South Asia - at its heart the London Mela commissions new work and has changed perceptions of what Mela is and how it programmes and commissions. It is an established highlight in the capital’s cultural calendar and is one of the only melas in the country to commission new work - it provides a platform for emerging British artists as well as bringing traditional and classical art forms to a wider audience.
Ajay Chhabra has been the driving force behind the creation vision and development of the London Mela since its inception.
Nutkhut have been involved with every aspect of the design and content of the event which has rapidly grown to become Europe’s largest Mela.
Critically acclaimed, it features the best in classical music, British Asian urban artists, dance, comedy and cabaret, Asian-influenced street theatre and circus, and exhibitions. And with a third of the audience from non-Asian communities, it is a truly inter-cultural family event with something for every generation of every community. Its audiences have grown from 60,000 in the early years to 92,000 at its peak.
In addition the event has received excellent media exposure via radio on BBC Asian Network and BBC London and on TV through coverage on the BBC2 via the red button, but also through commercial media coverage on Sky TV, ITV, Reuters and Getty Images. The event is strategically important for the UK’s Mela sector through its global media coverage. It is the largest south Asian cultural festival in Europe, in terms of breadth of programme, number of participating artists and size of audience.
The Mela takes place in 30 acres of Gunnersbury Park in West London and is a unique, one off show, which showcases and celebrates Mela in all its forms.
Ajay Chhabra has worked with a number of pan European organisations within the realm of Mela, in cities as diverse as Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Berlin. He has advised on strategic goals at government level, with charitable bodies and commercial sponsors and more recently in developing policy with organisations such as Arts Council England. Extracts of his paper ‘Mela in Europe’, are widely used to describe Mela and appears as the standard wikipedia entry used by Mela organisations across the Union.
“Like all good festivals, there was an element of the wild and weird” – Daily Telegraph
"Only here can Qawwali sit comfortably in the same arena as urban garage beats. "- Evening Standard