Every two years the city of Leeds welcomes the Compass Festival where public spaces like markets, museums, shopping centres and the streets of Leeds are filled with live art projects. This year they’re back with six thought provoking projects which started back in March and will continue throughout the year.

In May, Compass Festival held two of their playful projects, ‘Anxiety Arcade’ and ‘One in one out: Leeds Smallest Gay Bar’. Five Leeds Beckett students from Leeds School of Arts and the School of Events Tourism and Hospitality Management helped deliver these two projects as part of their course placements.

Anxiety Arcade was created by Closed Forum, a collective of artists specialising in digital interactive experiences. The Forum is led by Leeds School of Arts Learning Support Officer & MA student Adam Sam Sas-Skowronski and alumnus Matt Allen. The arcade was held at Trinity Kitchen between the 24 – 30th May where people could play on a full sized 80’s inspired arcade game, which was created to get people thinking and talking about anxiety.

Sidney Woodward, BSc Event Operations and Production Management student, also worked on the Anxiety Arcade project. She was responsible for front of house customer service, facilitating audience engagement and understanding of the piece, as well as ensuring all Covid-19 restrictions were adhered to.

Sidney said, “I really enjoyed seeing attendees’ responses to the installation. It brought up some sensitive topics but also sparked positive conversations and exploration around the theme of anxiety. I’ve definitely gained a better understanding of how an art piece or event can have a positive impact on an audience. This is something I will bear in mind as I progress through my degree and career.’

One In, One Out: Leeds’ Smallest Gay Bar by Lucy Hayhoe, came to Wharf Street from the 28 to 30th May. One in, One out: Leeds’ Smallest Gay Bar was an exclusive club featuring all the camp, glitz, glamour and dodgy disco lighting people have missed out over the last year, but this time it was all for the public. One in, One out explores the role of the gay bar in contemporary queer culture and asks us what we want to preserve and what we want to change.

Holly Gibbs, MA Choreography student, worked on the One in One Out: Leeds Smallest Gay Bar project. She was a performer in the installation, acting as a bouncer at the nightclub, dancing and staffing the cloakroom and bar. Holly was also a model for the marketing of the piece, featuring on the posters and in a Guardian article.

Holly said, “My favourite part of this experience was meeting the other creatives who already work in the industry. It was encouraging and beneficial to make these connections as I come to the end of my studies and looking to go into employment. I’ve gained a realistic understanding of working in the industry and the knowledge that it’s possible to get your ideas funded. So don’t be afraid to put your work forward for opportunities.”

Find out more about the 2021 Compass Festival and the other events taking place.

Young woman using 'anxiety arcade' machine with images on screen and text reading 'Who am I again?'

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