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Compass Festival is back – and it’s starting in your local phone box

Compass Festival is back – and it’s starting in your local phone box
Written by Compass Festival  26/02/2021

Compass Festival has been bringing interactive encounters to Leeds in places like shopping centres, markets, neighbourhoods and the city streets since 2011.

Those who know Compass Festival know it as a 10 day long programme of live art events, animating a blustery November in Leeds. 

Taking an innovative approach to festival programming during the pandemic, this year they have thrown away the rule book and spread their activities out over the whole of 2021.

A sonic artwork under a bridge, the city’s smallest gay bar, a reimagined retro arcade game and a collective listening experience where every phone-box in Leeds rings at the same time – there is more than enough to go around! 

With a fun yet introspective programme of events in multiple locations across Leeds – Compass Festival is back and it’s starting in your local phone-box. 

From 19 – 28 March at 11am daily, every working public pay-phone in Leeds will be ringing for Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) – the first Compass Festival project of the year by award-winning theatre and digital art company ZU-UK.

Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) can be done alone or in your bubble as part of your daily walk. Simply find your local phone-box on the interactive map and make your way there for 11am from 19–28 March.

Pick up the phone to participate in the gentle audio experience – exploring the innate power of listening, and why it’s so important for everyone’s mental health. 

You can also carry on the conversation with Compass Podcast – a series of four podcasts hosted by Pam Johnson. Featuring a range of artists and experts, listen as they come together to address the issues underpinning Compass Festival’s programme, from mental health to activism, food culture, disco and drag. 

Episode 1 features the artists behind Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) – discussing the project's soft yet powerful commentary on mental health, how it was technologically possible to make all the phone boxes in Leeds ring at once, and their ambitious plans for the future.

There are also a whole host of projects happening later in the year including: One in, One out: Leeds’ Smallest Gay Bar by Lucy Hayhoe – a playful installation for an audience of one exploring LGBTQ+ spaces; Anxiety Arcade – a full size arcade game about mental health by Leeds based Closed Forum; The Ballad of Crown Point Bridge – a sonic artwork by artist Amy Sharrocks based under a bridge; Joshua Sofaer’s Museums in People’s Homes exploring the objects people collect in their homes; and Public House - The Yorkshire Square celebrating pub culture in Kirkgate Market by Etheridge and Persighetti. 

Images: Lizzie Coombes

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