Children enjoy half-term arts activities at Highcross in Leicester

By Azim Saiyed

Children across Leicestershire got involved in half-term activities after the Leicester City Council organised a pop-up museum at the Highcross shopping centre.

During the half-term holidays, there was a wide range of activities from stencil writing to virtual reality sessions for young children to enjoy.

Half-term fun: Children get involved in stencil writing session

The events were organised by Metro Boulot Dodo, Graffwerk and Arts Council England so the children could enjoy and express themselves through creative arts.

The workshops were held daily from Tuesday (15Feb) to Sunday (20Feb).

Other half-term events held at Leicester museums included a Railway Day at Abbey Pumping Station and a Frosty Fun Day at Guildhall.

For more information about events held at Leicester’s museums, visit: www.leicestermuseums.org.

Leicester City Council renovates Knighton library

By Azim Saiyed

Knighton Library was recently renovated by Leicester City Council as a part of a £75,000 investment scheme to supply the demand of the local area.

Brand new improvements made at the Knighton library.

Initial improvement works began late last year and were completed a few weeks ago. The freshly refurbished library opened to the public this month.

The addition of new flooring and energy-efficient LED lights will aim to bring in more visitors from the community.

Later this spring, the library will launch a new self-access system which will give customers access to the library without the presence of the staff.

For more information about library services in Leicester visit the Leicester City Council library page here.

Leicester celebrates Chinese New Year with spectacular shows

By Azim Saiyed

People of Leicester flocked to the New Walk Museum to celebrate Chinese New Year last weekend(Sat 5-Sun 6FEB), as Cosmopolitan Arts organised a string of dazzling events including a procession through the city.

A roaring good time: Large crowd pictured at the finale light show at the Green Dragon Square.

The procession travelled from De Montfort University (DMU) to the clocktower with the beautiful and vibrant finale performance taking place in Green Dragon Square.

Amanda Leandro, founder of the organisation, said: “Considering this year’s Covid-19 issues, we had a massive turnout.

“Everyone was very happy even though the heavens opened up.

“We want to use arts to transcend language barriers by exposing people to other cultures.

“We also hope to promote cultural integration within the community.

“We live in a multicultural society and it is important to build bridges between different cultural communities.”

There were roughly 2,000 people who paraded through the streets of Leicester and the traditional Chinese dragon led the procession from the front.

Students from DMU and University of Leicester turned up in their numbers to take part in the occasion.

Saturday’s exhibition at the New Walk Museum offered a whole range of activities from Chinese calligraphy to live musical performances by Euphoria.

Fire breather: Performers play dragon act in costume at New Walk Museum.

Cosmopolitan Arts has set up Chinese New Year celebrations for the past six years and the Confucius Institute at DMU has also collaborated with it for the last three years.

The wider aim of the organisation is to achieve social harmony and equality.

Alongside these eye-catching performances and successful events, the organisation has been researching Chinese heritage at the same time.

The relationship between Cosmopolitan Arts and Leicester City Council has allowed the team to put on these wonderful events since 2011.

The team is currently working on a documentary screening project involving 15 different culture groups.

Amanda said: “More people should open their eyes and get involved in these events.

“Every single culture should be enjoyed, embraced and experienced.”

Her motive to tackle social inequality has guided her to carry out workshops at the African Caribbean Centre in Leicester to help ethnic minority children.

If you would like to find out more information about future events, then please visit: www.cosmopolitanarts.co.uk.

Empty stalls suffer crisis at local Leicester market in post lockdown

by Azim Saiyed

Local market trade is on the decline post-lockdown due to retiring and self-isolating traders in the Leicester market.  

 A high number of stalls can be seen empty and abandoned following the end of lockdown due to self-isolating traders which some fear is portraying the market’s image as a dying institution.

Paul Abbot, 56, a grocer with 34 years of experience in the trade, said: “If it stays like this, it’s going to hurt us.”

The increasing number of corner shops and the dominance of large supermarket chains are also preventing the local market of Leicester from thriving.

A high number of stall can be seen empty and market is also unpopulated

 Mr Abbott, also known as Bud, described it as the “heartbeat of Leicester” but said it is no longer the same as before. 

“Not only the fruit and vegetable trade stalls have been hit by this adversity but the dry goods stalls such as clothing and toys have been badly affected,” said Mr Abbott. 

He believes the availability of the lockdown business grants from the government have resulted in many new local businesses opening which has impacted the market stalls negatively. 

The good fortune of home-grown produce has meant that there have been no consequences of a lack of foreign export trade especially in the current crisis of HGV driver shortages. 

“Trade is slower towards the winter,” said Mr Abbott. The market traders will have to prepare themselves to face this hardship. The issue is magnified with the additional problem of language barriers between traders and customers who come from ethnic minority customers. 

56 years-old Paul Abbott applying his speciality skills in the market trade.

Mr Abbott’s busy work schedule consists of buying and collecting produce from Leicester’s wholesale market in the morning at 4am, then tirelessly selling the produce throughout the day at the local market. 

Bud’s stall contains a variety of produce, more specifically a maximum of up to 70 different types of produce. 

Originally, he started with selling fruit but then due to customer demand also started to sell vegetables as well. 

Mr Abbott said: “We can only pray for better times”, as lockdown has ended but the fight against covid-19 is still very much alive which means the market trade remains unstable and un-secure. 

VIDEO: Pakistani cultural ball to be held in Leicester

By Emily Barker

A cultural ball is set to be held in Leicester at the end of March.

De Montfort University’s (DMU) Pakistani Society will be holding a ball called Zindagi, at The Platinum Suite in Cobden Street, just off Humberstone Road, on Thursday, March 28.

Zain Afzal, 22, is studying a Graduate Degree in Law, after graduating from a Politics degree at DMU. He is also the Health and Safety Officer for the Pakistani Society.

Zain said: “This event is open to anyone, society member or not. We are really keen to make this a public event.

“We are having live music and hosting a three-course meal, consisting of traditional Pakistani delicacy; tandoori chicken, samosas, biryani and also gulab jamun, which is a dessert. Tea will also be served.”

DMU’s Pakistani Society at their Qawwali Night in February (SOURCE: Zain Afzal)

The event will be ticketed at £35 for standard tickets and £45 for VIP, with the dress code being traditional Asian dress or formal clothing.

It will be promoted on the society’s social media pages and around campus, with people handing leaflets and posters out every day to students, staff and the public.

The society is also looking to advertise with and get sponsorship from Leicester businesses.

Zain continued: “We wanted to keep the now-annual tradition going, and this will be our third event.

“The past two years have been a major success and we want this event to be the same.

“In 2017, I think we had around 300 people attend, and then last year it was more like 500 or 600 people.

“We want to create a memorable night where people can socialise and make new friends.

“During Ramadan, the society are also helping out with the prayer room on campus, for Iftar (the evening meal after sunset), as 300 people are expected to attend.”