Brand new NEXUS festival to take over Leeds City Centre

By September 9, 2014

Art & Photography. Leeds.


Brace yourselves. On September 12th, 13th and 14th, 71 acts and over 150 artists will descend upon four of Leeds’ top City Centre venues as part of brand new arts festival – NEXUS.

Organised in just 6 weeks, NEXUS is a brand new arts, performance and music festival that will take place between Leeds’ Corn Exchange, Belgrave Music Hall, The Wardrobe and a pop-up venue on Bond Street. The festival promises theatre, film, a pop-up DJ night, sculpture, poetry, gospel choirs, comedy line-ups, art, music, stories and 2000 paper planes… yes you heard correctly.

In the midst of manic preparation, we managed to catch Stephanie Upsall, Managing Director of the West Yorkshire Theatre Network and coordinator of the festival to enlighten us a little…


Back in June, 7 talented individuals were chosen to be a part of a pioneering project to champion emerging artists – NLab – run by West Yorkshire Theatre Network and funded by Arts Council England. In the months since, these diverse artists have undergone professional training working with expert mentor Ian Bloomfield (Theatre in the Mill) to develop a complete piece of original work.

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The 7 artists of the NLab project


NLab will be unveiling their new piece, headlining the opening night of the festival (Friday 12th) at the Corn Exchange – bringing the venue alive with all manner of different pieces, including dance, an open mic, theatre, films, installations and a piece with over 2000 paper planes.

What started as a one-day festival to support a brand new collaborative arts project, has spiralled into a multi-arts takeover of the City Centre involving artists from far and wide.

“It set out as a one day, one venue venture to showcase the brand new NLab project but suddenly it grew to three days and four venues!

There are two core aims behind NEXUS; to provide a supportive platform for artists of completely different artforms to showcase their work side by side; and to bring audiences together to experience artforms they wouldn’t normally be exposed to – i.e. someone coming to see a live music gig may also end up watching a contemporary dance piece or spoken word.”

There is so much to choose from across the weekend, it’s certainly worth downloading the programme to see what’s on.

“We’ve been having a debate as to whether it’s ‘pick’n’mix’ or ‘tapas’ type event! Essentially we want people to choose what they see but urge people to turn up slightly early to see the piece on before or stay afterward to see the next. We’ve spent a long time programming carefully so different artforms sit side by side. None of the pieces are long so if something isn’t for you, the next act probably will be – nothing lost but potentially lots gained!


Below, we have tried to give you a brief overview of what to expect across the weekend and some events that are not to be missed!

On Friday 12th,Leeds Corn Exchange will play host to the NLab premiere (see above). There is a full programme to view and download online.

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen hosts a night of music, theatre and dance and you’ll be delighted to know a wristband also includes some tasty food deals…. a free slice of pizza from Dough Boys….a free portion of chips with your Patty Smith’s burger… plus FREE entry to The Hifi Club. “Josh Coates’Particles’ looks like a really interesting piece of theatre using arts to play with science – I’d choose to see that if I were going!” (Friday 6.30pm)


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Josh Coates – Particles, Friday 12th, Corn Exchange


On Saturday 13th we’ve got a pop up DJ night at an empty shop unit (courtesy of 33 Bond Street & East St Arts) called PROTO/DISCO (10pm-4am) which has a fab line-up before it from 4pm”.

Artists scheduled to appear include performer and dancer Lydia Cottrell with ‘Bolero’; Dancing Glitter Man; storyteller Michael Yates; a film & comic monologue from Daniel Wilson and music from ‘Be Still My Heart’ to name just a few.

Leeds Corn Exchange will continue to host an array of arts, performance, music and film throughout the day.

The final day of the festival (Sunday 14th) will see a spectacular line-up across the venues.


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Snakebox, Sunday 14th, Corn Exchange


“I’d urge anyone to see Balbir Singh Dance’s Roundness of 12 (6pm in the Corn Exchange) because his work is just stunning. Other acts in The Corn Exchange will include community gospel choir Voices of the Day lead by local musical legend Cleve Freckleton – his choir is just magical, and Akeim Buck and Otis Jones of Snake box. To have all these communities under one roof is so important.

Towards the end of the evening, the UK’s only all-female comedy line up, run by Laughing Cows Comedy, will star a Peter Kay favourite Janice Connelly (aka Barbara Nice), the enigmatic Kerry Leigh and rising star Lesley Kershaw. This event is supported by Women in Comedy, Laughing Cows and LFest and is hugely important to us because it’s bringing an underground community (LBT) to the foreground. We urge anyone who supports women in the arts to get down to this as it’s going to be a cracker!”

From 2pm, The Wardrobe will also play host to a jam-packed up line up of music (to include Jake Tyrell, Ruby Macintosh and Opera North), contemporary dance, poetry and stories from Matt Abbott and Settle Stories, and headlined by Leeds’ favourites, Hope & Social.

NEXUS has partnered with various organisations for the festival. “As well those already mentioned, we are also supported by Leeds Trinity University and Left Bank who made significant donations to our Crowd Funding campaign. This helped greatly towards our race to raise the necessary “match funding” for our Arts Council funding for NLab back in August. East Street Arts have supported us for a couple of years now by providing space through their “in Situ” programme so we’re very lucky to have them as friends too. They do incredible work.”


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You’ll be please to know that tickets are only £15 for the full weekend! From the NEXUS website you can download a printable copy of the programme, also available to view on your smartphone/tablet.

We asked Stephanie to choose her top picks for the weekend, but rightly so she answered “oh no, please don’t make me choose! All of our acts are incredible. That’s why they’re in it! If I was going to NEXUS, I would be in heaven.”


Visit for full coverage of the festival and to purchase your wristband. Follow NEXUS on Twitter @NEXUS_Leeds


West Yorkshire Theatre Network
NLab Project
Theatre in the Mill
Leeds Trinity University
Left Bank
Laughing Cows Comedy