The economic and social benefits of hosting the Warrington Mela
This report was written as part of WECA’s Project (Mela) monitoring for its funders.
Warrington’s Mela festival, now in its fifth year, annually contributes to economic and social development of the town. The Mela received positive media recognitions; it was featured in the Warrington Guardian and Warrington Worldwide. Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were used by the community to share activities and performances. These types of activities enhanced local image and the positive identity of the town. Visitors who were featured in the media expressed they felt positive about where they lived (Warrington) and agreed that the Mela successfully built community cohesion and supported integration.
The event is annually organised by volunteers. It is also run by dedicated volunteers from the community, all varying in: age, ethnicity, background, ability and gender. The Mela always had high level of engagement and public participation from communities and professional services. Yearly it acts as an informal venue for many of Warrington’s health, social and third sector organisations.
This year there were various stalls offering information and support such as on volunteering, apprenticeships and employment opportunities. Informal chats with these stall holders reassured WECA that the general public were being interactive and signing up for opportunities and initiatives on the day. People coming and working together annually demonstrates that the Mela is rooted in the social and cultural life of Warrington.
The Mela, being a popular festival, annually generates and sustains large number of audiences. This year it saw large increase in attendances and participations from ‘White’ ethnicity groups. In previous years the audiences were fairly homogenous, South Asian and White British made up 80 percent of the attendees. However, this year the event saw an increase of attendees from Eastern European communities.
Warrington also benefits economically from the Mela. The festival annually makes positive impact on local businesses. It provides spaces for local businesses and charities to trade and generate income which benefits Warrington’s economical infrastructure. It also boosts town’s tourism by bringing in people from various regions.
As well as making a valuable contribution to the town’s overall cultural life and calendar, Mela ultimately contributed to fostering, sharing and appreciating local and ethnic talents. Empowering them to flourish and increase their support base.
It’s important for Warrington and wider communities to recognise the benefits and the positive impact the Mela has on the economic and social development of the town. With funding being scarce and limited WECA is left worrying about the sustainability and the growth of this important festival. As a community what can we do to support the Mela? Perhaps we should work or rather think together about alternative ways to generate income so that we are able to enjoy this festival for many more years to come. If you have cleaver or creative ideas about ways to generate funds for Mela 2016, please do share. Perhaps you can drop Mo an email with your idea at firstname.lastname@example.org.