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National recognition for virtual Middlesbrough Mela

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Middlesbrough Mela 2020 has been recognised nationally for its response to Covid-19 when its organisers declared "the show must go on… line."

The event would have been celebrating its 30th birthday this year with a huge outdoor event but the celebrations have been postponed until 2021 due to Coronavirus.

Those behind the festival responded quickly to the outbreak of the pandemic by creating a virtual festival from scratch.

Their work included building a new website, hosting online workshops, creating more than 400 art packs for local communities, delivering online storytelling and more.

As a result the event has been shortlisted in the Best Online Mela category of the 2020 UK Bhangra Awards.

The awards are billed as representing "lifestyle, tradition and cultural values, which encompass the very soul of Asians in the UK".

Middlesbrough Mela is up against the Melas of major cities across the UK including London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast and Nottingham.

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive Member for Communities and Education, said: "We knew that even in the middle of a global pandemic we couldn't let such a major milestone as the 30th anniversary of the Middlesbrough Mela go unmarked.

"Everyone involved deserves huge credit for so quickly putting such a brilliant programme together at short notice.

"To now be shortlisted in the UK Bhangra Awards - and to show Middlesbrough punching its weight alongside the biggest cities in the UK - is fantastic recognition of everyone's work."

The awards are voted on by the public and will be announced via an online event on Saturday, December 19 from 5pm-11pm. To find out more about the UK Bhangra Awards and how to vote for Middlesbrough Mela 2020, visit the UK Bhangra Awards website.

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