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

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Masala Festival is coming to Newcastle for a week of diversity, culture and an all round good time. GemArts will bring films, photography and poetry to the region from Monday 11th July to Sunday 17th July.

A screening of ALIVE! will be shown on the opening day at Gateshead’s Old Town Hall. It is a specially crafted programme of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender life in South Asia through the means of film. Producer of ALIVE!, Bobby Tiwana, will introduce the event which also includes his Love Works Duology.

Jazz North East and Jazz North have came together with Masala Festival to present Manjula to the region. They are a Leeds based project who fuse cultural sounds and world music together, particularly those from Portuguese and Latin jazz, their upbeat rhythms are certain to dazzle The Black Swan on Tuesday 12th July.

The day after Manjula sees Masala Festival stick to the music hybrid when Sage One, Gateshead, hosts Shri’s Just a Vibration. Shri Sriram has crafted a collaboration between classical Indian music and a traditional brass band that come together to create a unique sound. Mercury Prize nominated Newcastle-based singer songwriter Kathryn Williams will slither vocals over sitars and saxophones.

On Wednesday 13th July, Whitley Bay Metro Station will be taken over by Bollywood Dancers. The session is open to anyone and no previous experience is required. It is a combination of classical Indian dance, hip-hop dancing as well as touching on the styles of salsa and jazz. It is the perfect way to get into a new sport and is open to all ages. Bollywood dancing also takes place Thursday 14th July at The Nest, Durham Road.

A celebration of contemporary South Asian poetry will be showcased by Moiza Alvi, Arundathi Subramaniam and Amali Rodrigo. They are all award winning poets that bring fresh and exciting themes to Culture Lab, Newcastle University on Thursday 14th July. Alvi has also been shortlisted for he T.S Eliot Poetry Prize, as has Subramaniam, whereas Rodrigo recently translated graffiti song-poems at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Gallery, Gateshead Central Library, host a free photography exhibition on Friday 15th July based on the importance of the turban. Titled: “Turbanism”, it lasts until Saturday 3rd September and explores Rehmat Rayatt’s beliefs on how cultures centralise themes and how the turban is a symbol of family, location and profession in Rahasthani culture.

Also on Friday 15th July is a unique event – Doga. Yoga for dogs. Mahny Djahanguiri, founder and author of DOGA, will be at Whitley Bay Metro Station to demonstrate how to involve your pet with yoga exercises around the house. An insight will be given onto how to have the ultimate bonding experience. You may bring your dog to the session but please contact GemArts on 0191 440 4124 beforehand.

The closing weekend will see a modern, Bollywood adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Replacing the title characters will be Ram and Leela, chosen by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It is presented at Jam Jar Cinema, Whitley Bay, on Saturday 16th July and costs just £5. It will be shown in Hindi with Engish subtitles.

The finale of GemArts Masala Festival is a celebration combining all aspects of the South Asian culture. Henna tattoos are available, Dhol drumming will be ongoing and street food will be available. The Live Garden bursts to life with two performances from The Magic Fish, a classic Indian tale, being recreated through dance, storytelling and beat boxing.

More information on prices, locations and general questions can be found at

GemArts Masala Festival takes place at various venues from Monday 11th July to Sunday 17th July.

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