Greenbelt festival is recognised for Muslim programme  

13 October 2017

DREW MCLELLAN

GREENBELT added another award to its trophy cabinet this week for its vibrant display of Muslim art and culture, and championing of Palestinian artists and activists, at this year’s festival, its 44th (Features, 1 September).

The organisers of Greenbelt were presented with the Act of Independence award from the Association of Independent Festivals, on Tuesday, for the festival’s programme dedicated to the celebration of Muslim artistry and culture from around the world.

The programme, created with the Chicago-based cultural producer Asad Ali Jafri, was funded by Amal, a new youth project of the Saïd Foundation which promotes equal opportunities for people in the UK to explore the diversity of Muslim cultures and arts, including storytelling, visual arts, theatre, poetry, music, dance, and film.

This year’s programme featured Kathak dance from the Sonia Sabri Company in Birmingham; the spoken word from the Muslim blogger and poet Saraiya Bah; comedy from Bilal Zafar; music from the band Native Sun and singer-songwriter Fahad Khalid; storytelling from the artist Yousuf Bashir Qureshi and the playwright Avaes Mohammad; and performing arts from the Khayaal Theatre Company in Luton.

Greenbelt also supports the human-rights struggles of the Palestinian people, most recently marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration; 70 years since the UN Partition Plan in 1947; 50 years since the Six-Day War in 1967; and ten years since the beginning of the blockade on Gaza.

The festival’s creative director, Paul Northup, said: “Greenbelt has invited people from other faiths, and especially Muslim thinkers, for many years. But in 2017, thanks to the support and involvement of Amal, we were able to build a venue and programme dedicated to showcasing global Muslim art and culture. . .

“We were also thrilled to build on the festival’s long and proud tradition of platforming people working for peace and justice in Palestine-Israel and celebrating the artistry and culture of those lands in this year of key anniversaries in that conflicted and disputed region.”

Greenbelt has also been shortlisted for the “Mind-blowing Spectacle” award for its commissioning of a site-specific at installation of suspended birds, Murmuration, by the light artist Nicola Haines.

The Church Times is Greenbelt’s media partner.

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