Middlesbrough is playing host to the inaugural meeting of the International Mela Institute today (Thursday, May 12).
The event sees the launch of a professional international organisation to promote exchange of knowledge and practice in Mela throughout the world, and will build on the work of the European Mela Network.
This new organisation brings together representatives from Melas around the country, including Bradford, Glasgow, Belfast, Nottingham, Oldham and Middlesbrough to develop an organisation to speak on behalf of Melas nationally and internationally and strengthen their voice.
The choice of Middlesbrough Town Hall as the venue for the inaugural IMI meeting is particularly apt as the Middlesbrough Mela celebrates its 21st birthday with a two-day feast of entertainment in Albert Park over the weekend of July 16 and 17.
IMI treasurer Champak Kumar Limbachia, of Oriental Arts (Bradford), said: “These are tough economic times for everyone and a number of Melas have suffered in the cutbacks.
“That’s why we need to work together more than ever, to pool resources and expertise and ensure we build a truly international network.
“The IMI will be the voice for a number of Melas, both around the UK and Europe and further afield.
“Mela is growing globally and we need to build on that – by working together through the IMI, sharing ideas and artists, we can ensure we have a collective voice and effective access to the key funding bodies and government departments.”