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“Playfully Disruptive” It’s Compass Festival 2018!

Compass Festival is a biennial festival of interactive live art projects which takes place in Leeds. This year, Leeds 2023 have supported the EFFE accredited festival to strengthen its international links and profile. As Compass prepares to open next week, we spoke to Co-Director, Annie Lloyd, about what to expect around Leeds during the festival which runs from the 16th – 25th November.

16 November 2018 marks the opening of the fourth Compass Festival in Leeds. Since we started in 2011 we’ve presented over 40 extraordinary live art, interactive projects in public places around the city.  The artists we commission have collaborated with 100 partners: community groups, individuals, professional organisations and businesses to create the work. We’ve placed projects in Trinity, Merrion Centre, Kirkgate Market, Art Hostel, City Museum, Town Hall, Central Library, cafes, churches, pubs, the street and this year, for the first time, on the river.

Many of the projects take a long form, unfolding over hours and days and all of them invite audiences for free to participate in some way. More than 20,000 people have experienced the festival.

We don’t theme the festival as such but at the heart of it is the notion of community – people coming together to exchange knowledge, stories and experiences through the lens of creativity. We call it playfully disruptive.

We’re very excited this year that among our 13 projects we have 3 large scale new commissions: Jack Tan’s Four Legs Good will transform the Town Hall into a fictional department of animal justice with a 10 day exhibition and a day of live animal trials with real barristers.  Scottee’s Would Like to Meet is based on St Peter’s Mount in Bramley, residents of which nominated themselves as ‘the loneliest street in Leeds’. Having interviewed neighbours about who they’d like to meet and why they do or don’t currently talk to each other Scottee will place estate agent style placards outside each participating house for the duration of the festival. And Scottee will return later to find out what happened. Two podcasts of neighbours talking accompany this.

And people in six districts: Beeston, Holbeck, Bramley, Gipton, Seacroft and Woodhouse will be invited to vote on a different question each day in a mass poll of mood and feeling. Illuminated boards will display the results day by day and all will come together in a final gathering in City Square.

There’s also plenty going on in the city centre including a ride on a specially chartered water taxi to experience an extraordinary audio piece describing the afterlife of the body in water.

None of these brief outlines tells the whole story of the depth and detail of these projects and we urge you to check out the Compass website for more.

Compass is always growing and always looking for bold artists who want to create public projects with local collaborators. In fact we are currently seeking proposals for a series of artist residencies next year, one of which will be international and is kindly supported by Leeds 2023.  Check out the website.


Annie Lloyd

Co-Director with Peter Reed

Compass Live Art


Compass Live Art is supported by Arts Council England, LeedsBID, arts@Leeds, Leeds Inspired, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds 2023

IMAGE: Four Legs Good, Jack Tan, Lizzie Coombes Photography