Compass Festival 2018

Live art and interactive encounters across Leeds
16-25 November 2018

The first Compass Festival in 2011 was a modest affair - a handful of small projects over one weekend supporting a symposium on socially engaged live art practice.

What’s changed over the intervening years is the festival has grown bigger and more ambitious. Compass realised early on that the projects which made the biggest impact were those created especially for Leeds that involved the artists being embedded in the city over an extended period of time building relationships with people related to the projects’ concerns.

The festival isn’t themed, nor do they ask artists to respond to a particular place or building. Instead, the artists choose what they want to explore and with whom and Compass puts them in touch with interested people. Then they consider where the best location might be and approach the buildings or places that could work best for the project. For example, when Jack Tan proposed re-imagining medieval animal trials to explore our contemporary attitude to the environment and animal sovereignty, Compass invited him to Leeds and put him in touch with the RSPCA, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, The Canal and River Trust and National Sheep Farmers Association. He ran a symposium at Leeds Law School discussing the legal personhood of animals with law academics and PhD students. The festival introduced him to barristers and solicitors in Leeds. And the Arts Development team helped Compass to secure the historic 19th century courtroom in Leeds Town Hall as the perfect location. So when festival attenders take their places on the jury or in the public gallery this November they will witness playful, unusual performances – live animals, real barristers, new court procedures that draw on many different legal precedents contemporary and historic - that have been deeply informed by dozens of collaborators active in legal and animal welfare issues. And they’ll experience the context of the Town Hall adapted through skillful signage and exhibition materials suggesting the animal court has always existed. “Aquatic entrance this way”.

Over the years Compass has learnt the advantages of commissioning new work alongside some already existing pieces. And they’re proud that all the work in the programme is new to Leeds (oh apart from Bethany Wells’ wonderful live art sauna which they commissioned in 2016 and is back by popular demand) and half of the programme has been especially commissioned and never seen before.

Check out the festival programme and events.

Categories: Featured Activity

Date Posted: 25 October 2018