Alchemy festival returns to celebrate South-Asian talent in London’s Southbank Centre

A festival celebrating the cultural connections between South Asia and the UK returned to London’s Southbank Centre for its ninth year running.

Hundreds of people attended Alchemy, London’s multi-arts festival, over the early May bank holiday weekend and were entertained by a programme of dance, comedy, music and literature.

The 2018 festival focused on homegrown talent, bringing together emerging and legendary performers from across the UK, including Talvin Singh, Birmingham club night Shaanti and stars from the country’s leading producer of South Asian dance, Akademi.

Jude Kelly CBE, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, said that the festival was important in unifying cultural talent from Asia with the UK.

“Alchemy celebrates the amazing imagination and art that happens across South Asia and then matches it with equally wonderful work that is happening in the UK.

“For years and years we have been swapping back ideas between countries, communities, across borders. The word ‘Alchemy’ implies that is what happens when you have this cultural mix,” she said.

The festival’s first performer was London-born Bangladeshi singer Nish, who soared to number one on the iTunes world chart with his hit single Love Lost, released in February.

Radio presenter Yasser from the BBC Asian Network was delighted that the festival shed light on the wide range of Asian talent.

“Alchemy is a unique festival, one that supports and champions South-Asian culture from all walks of life.

“You’re not just looking at food, fashion or politics… it is literally a 360 of everything,” he said.

Street food pioneers KERB kept visitors entertained outside the concert hall, with 30 traders serving up an array of spice and heat with street-food dishes from across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

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