Post-Election Blueprint: Using Festivals to Transform Communities

Post-Election Blueprint: Using Festivals to Transform Communities

As the dust settles after the UK election, newly elected MPs and policymakers have a unique opportunity to drive meaningful change in their constituencies. The MELA Report created by Nutkhut and the Mela Partnership, launched in Parliament last year, offers a compelling vision for leveraging the power of festivals to foster community cohesion and drive social change.
– Ajay Chhabra, Chair, Mela Partnership

“This report demonstrates the power and reach of festivals. As a result many stakeholders nationally have begun to better understand Mela and Mela associated events. Festivals drive economic growth, encourage engagement and well being, all aspects of healthy progressive communities.”

The report highlighted several key benefits of festivals:

Community Engagement: Festivals bring people together, fostering a sense of belonging and unity. In smaller towns, where social isolation can be more pronounced, these events offer a vital opportunity for residents to connect and celebrate their shared culture.

Economic Boost: Festivals can significantly stimulate local economies. By attracting visitors and promoting local businesses, these events encourage tourism and create jobs, generating a positive economic ripple effect throughout the community.

Cultural Preservation: Celebrating local traditions and customs, festivals play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage and promoting diversity. This is essential for maintaining the unique identity of each community.

Social Change: Festivals provide platforms for addressing social issues, raising awareness, and promoting inclusive practices. They create spaces for dialogue, education, and collective action on critical community concerns.

Well-being: Participating in and organizing festivals can enhance the mental and emotional well-being of community members. These events offer a break from routine, reduce stress, and create joyous memories that strengthen communal bonds.

Mohammed Yaqoob from Newcastle Mela, who in 2024 celebrate 30 years of Mela in the city, emphasizes:

“Festivals reflect community identity and values, driving social cohesion.”


A Call to Newly Elected MP’s

As stewards of your constituencies, we urge you to embrace the insights provided by the MELA Report. Support and fund local festivals, encourage collaboration between businesses and cultural organizations, invest in the necessary infrastructure, and develop policies that promote the role of festivals in community development. Additionally, establish mechanisms to monitor and evaluate their impact, ensuring they continue to meet the needs and aspirations of your constituents.

Adrian from Eden Arts in Cumbria adds: “They strengthen community ties and reduce social isolation.

The MELA Report offers a roadmap for fostering vibrant, cohesive, and thriving communities. By recognizing and harnessing the multifaceted benefits of festivals, newly elected MPs and policymakers can help create lasting positive change in their constituencies.


Read the Mela report here…


Darren Hedley CBE – CEO Arts Council England and Baroness Usha Prashar


Lord Dholakia, Sunder Katwala, Heather Rolfe – British Futures


Ajay Chhabra – Chair Mela Partnership