Compass Festival 2016

Compass Festival is a biennial celebration of Live Art in Leeds, West Yorkshire, which will return to the city on 11-20 November 2016.

Since 2011, Compass Festival has been animating Leeds with interactive encounters and live art projects that invite the public to join us in playful enquiry, silent contemplation, feats of madness, hospitality and communality within and beyond the theatre or gallery, in the places where they live, work and play. 

Compass believe everyone can enjoy the best of contemporary live art and we work closely with partners around the city and beyond to present thought provoking, entertaining and moving projects in a range of settings such as libraries, markets, museums, shopping centres and the city streets. 

Here are just a few examples of the type of work that Compass Festival does.


Personal Shopper: Cornucopia!

Compass Festival 2016 sees the culmination of Katie Etheridge & Simon Persighetti’s project that first set out in 2014 to explore and celebrate the network of relationships between shoppers, traders and goods in Leeds Kirkgate Market  - the largest covered market in Europe and a landmark building in the city. Compass Festival commissioned Personal Shopper as a site-specific project, which developed during a time of change for the surrounding part of the city centre, the market building, the stallholders and shoppers alike.

During Compass Festival in 2014, Etheridge & Persighetti invited shoppers, traders and festival-goers to guide them through the market to photograph their favourite stalls, faces and places. At the Personal Shopper stall, these images and encounters were processed and printed onto reusable personal shopping bags, to be exhibited, gifted, traded and brought back to the market week after week. Further work followed in 2015 ensuring a long-term relationship developed with the market stallholders and people shopping there.

For Compass Festival 2016, Personal Shopper will manifest as a stall where you can shop for experiences, rather than things, offering a pick-and-mix selection of micro market tours led by shoppers, traders, market enthusiasts and Mis-Guides. Audiences will be invited to see the market through a series of Personal Shopper Tours, offering a kaleidoscope of perspectives, approaches and relationships to the market.

Mis-Guiding is a playful and flexible approach to exploring and understanding places, that values the small but significant moments that shape our lives, as much as any ‘official’ histories. The Mis-Guide approach was originally developed on 2006 when “Mis-Guide to Anywhere” was devised by Wrights & Sites and can be a passport to your ‘other’ city and a new way of travelling a very familiar one.

The Personal Shopper project has been a joy for Compass to commission and present, seeing the artists embed themselves deeply in the life of the market and co-create a project with hundreds of shoppers, traders and members of the public. It is an exemplar of how we strive to work with artists and present projects in the city of Leeds.


WARMTH : A Mobile Sauna

Compass Festival commissioned emerging Sheffield-based artist Bethany Wells’ WARMTH – a mobile wood-fired sauna created as a space for Live Art.

Bethany is a professional performance designer working across dance, theatre and installation with a background in architecture and she has built WARMTH is built in a converted horse trailer using Finnish timber and an Estonian wood-burning stove.

Inspired by Finnish savusauna rituals and traditions, the sauna forms an intimate warm, timber-lined space, which can be used as a tiny performance venue “to spend time, have conversations, and challenge preconceptions about the performance of the body in public”.

Compass worked with Bethany throughout 2016 to develop WARMTH as an experimental performance space, which will officially in Leeds as part of Compass Festival in November 2016. Guest artists will visit the sauna, which is an ever-changing multi sensory space for 5-6 people at a time.


Compass Young Producers

A fundamental driver for Compass Festival is the desire to develop the next generation of professional producers. The Compass Young Producers scheme has been developed to this end and takes a new cohort of recent graduates from universities and colleges in the north of England every two years to train through a structured programme.

This year’s intake of five Compass Young Producers are supported by a bursary and through structured training are introduced to all aspects of festival production including funding and marketing and an invaluable network of contacts.

The programme involves workshops with the Co-Directors, Annie Lloyd and Peter Reed on budgeting, venue liaison, artistic selection and marketing. Visits to partner organisations provide an opportunity to learn and create a network for the Young Producers to build upon. One to one meetings with the Co-Directors create a chance for the programme to be tailored to each Young Producer’s individual work, aspirations and future prospects.

In addition, the producers chose and were allocated particular artists and projects to support. They become hands on producers liaising with artists and venues, sourcing materials, organising and supporting volunteers for the lead up to and duration of Compass Festival.

In the words of Alice Withers, one of the 2014 cohort of Young Producers:

“Compass YP’s has really come at a great time for me, after being out of university for 18 months now. I felt that it really gave me confidence in my own skills, and that I could really put those to great use, towards something great and inspiring. It seems to me that the first few years of a graduate’s life outside of the art school are the hardest. I’ve found it incredibly testing, and still am, to begin my career as an independent artist and producer. Compass has been a great stepping-stone, and I feel that the informal training I gained has been invaluable, and an accolade I can really boast about to potential collaborators and employers. 

… it became clear that the Young Producer scheme is something really unique. It’s a necessity, and an opportunity that young graduates are seeking. Meeting groups like Residence and IBT this really reinforced ideas within me that it is possible to pursue this career, it was fantastic to see people who had been in a position similar to my own. It was a great chance to create contacts within the arts field in Leeds, and reinforce relationships with people I had met before.”  

Categories: Featured Activity

Date Posted: 25 October 2016