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Bolton is to play host to an event as part of the Muslim Art and Culture Festival.

MACFEST is a series of events which are spread across the globe that will showcase and celebrate what the different communities and cultures within the faith have to offer the world of art.

This year will be the fourth edition of the festival which was created by Manchester-based critically acclaimed novelist and activist Qaisra Shahraz. Events will run from February 5 to September 20.

The finer details are yet to be finalised, but the event comes to Bolton for the second time, hosted by the Bolton Museum Art Gallery and Aquarium, on Saturday, June 25, when the borough’s Muslim communities will be celebrated through art exhibitions, food, talks, poetry, performances and workshops that anyone can take part in.

Ms Shahraz said: “Wherever there is division in communities there should be a MACFEST, and that’s where Bolton comes in. Bolton presented what a great template for MACFEST can be. They took ownership and created a platform for local culture from all communities.”

The festival was created as a response to the damage done to community relations in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017.

“It was a devastating experience. Completely shocking,” Ms Shahraz added.

“I thought enough is enough. Whenever there is this kind of terrorism the Muslim community becomes under siege. They are made to feel guilty. It’s already a traumatic experience. I wanted to create a new opposite where there is no negativity with my faith, I want to celebrate it.”

The festival is about bringing Muslim and non-Muslim people together, as well as bring different Muslim communities together. But Ms Shahraz is also passionate about giving under-represented people a platform for this art.

“It’s not just about bringing communities together but celebrating multimedia artforms. It gives them the pride that their culture is being hosted. They can show their world whilst having the opportunity to develop,” she said.

Despite Covid forcing the event online last year, MACFEST won the Queen’s Award for Volunteer Service.

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