The Reviews Hub’s Rich Jevons talks to Artistic Director Annie Lloyd about this year’s Compass Live Art Festival.
What are your aims and objectives with the festival?
In short, our aims are to put on a ten-day festival of unique work that thousands of people can see for free. It is live art and it happens in public places and, with the exception of a few things that you need to book for, everything you can come across as you’re going about your daily business. So the key aim is that it is very accessible to all.
The other aim is that we introduce work that goes out into the public and it can be quite involved. There is a depth and layer to the work, it’s not just a spectacle as you’re actually involved in conversations. It has also got a serious edge to it as well.
What appeals to you about audience participation?
That is not a term we use because it smacks a bit of the pantos! It’s more about interactivity. A lot of art practice can be a bit passive as you just go and watch and/or listen to a production. We’re interested in artists who want to engage much more directly with people. So they’re actually present in the artwork and it involves some kind of communication. It’s the input of people that help form the work. It’s not a fixed and finished thing that you then present, it evolves and changes, depending on how people respond to it.
There are artists who are interested in that way of working and we’re interested in supporting them. For potential audiences, the experience is richer and deeper. They have been taken through a journey somewhere, rather than just sitting in the dark and absorbing.
What would you like people to take away from the festival?
I hope they have a lot of fun and enjoy it. There’s a real variety of work as well. I would love them to take away the idea that art can be so much more than paying money and going into a building, having culture given to you, as it were. We’re working with artists who are really good at working with people. You won’t feel put on the spot or asked to do anything that you don’t want to do. But, if you want to, you will be invited to get deeply involved in a discussion or an idea. Or just a moment of something out of the ordinary. It’s about shaking up the everyday and having an experience that you might not have expected.
You are using some very unusual venues – is that to make it accessible to people who would not normally see live art?
That’s part of it. We don’t choose the building first, and then see what can we do in it. It comes the other way round. So as we start talking to artists about things that they would like to do, we think about where a piece could be best located. Because art can be anywhere – it doesn’t have to be in a dedicated art building.
See https://compassliveart.org.uk/festival/2018-programme for this year’s programme
Image: Four Legs Good by Lizzie Coombes