NEWS: Masala Festival @ Various Venues | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Shiva Nataraja by Sumit Sarkar

Indulge your senses in GemArts’ Masala Festival, taking place at various locations from Saturday 14th until Sunday 22nd July. The celebration of South Asian arts and culture promises a packed programme of dance, music, food, poetry, workshops, exhibitions and celebration, with an emphasis on performers and practitioners based in the North.

The packed programme has something for everyone, with highlights including a dance performance from Odissi Ensemble, whose Sacred Shapes attempts to make connections between their inner beings and the wider world (Saturday 14th, Sage Gateshead Performance Square); 3D print, virtual reality and motion capture artworks will be presented alongside Sumit Sarkar’s exhibition of painting and sculpture, Everything Nothing (Monday 16th July-Tuesday 2nd October, Gateshead Central Library Gallery); language and identity are hot topics, as award-winning poets Sujata Bhatt, Vidyan Ravinthiran and Zaffar Kunial’s work considers themes of home, multiculturalism and the inheritance of languages (Tuesday 17th, The Lit & Phil); there’s live music from Ashraf Sharif Khan on the sitar and Shabaz Hussain playing tabla (Wednesday 18th, Sage Gateshead) and a performance from Jesse Bannister, widely regarded as the finest Indian saxophonist in Europe, who performs with a new quartet aiming to cross musical boundaries (Thursday 19th, Jazz Café). You can also taste your way around South Asia thanks to Dabbawal’s special festival menu.

There are film screenings peppered throughout the festival, including Danny Boyle’s hit Slumdog Millionaire (Sunday 15th, Jam Jar Cinema, Whitley Bay); Gurinder Chada’s award-winning Bhaji on the Beach (Wednesday 18th, Arch Sixteen Café); AWAKE, a programme of film shorts about consciousness, humanity and well-being (Friday 20th, BALTIC); and Village Rockstars, an inspiring tale of music, dreams and empowerment set in Assam (Saturday 21st, Tyneside Cinema).

The Mini Mela will signify the festival finale, with a compelling mix of arts, crafts, storytelling, live performance, music and food at Live Theatre’s Live Garden on Sunday 22nd. Whether you’re familiar with South Asian arts and culture or not, Masala Festival provides the perfect opportunity to discover alluring performances and inspirational people.

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