Compass Festival: What we can learn from the pub

    Hatch drinking area

    Over the past year, we’ve spent so much of our time at home, and lost some of that all-important social connection with our friends and family. While Zoom and distanced walks have got us through, the opening of our communities once more has proven vital to improving our mental health. The reason so many of us rejoiced over the reopening of pubs and bars wasn’t because we’re all alcoholics and desperate for that first sip of draft beer, but because these are places we can be together again.

    The opening of these ‘third spaces’ has been so important in revitalising the economy, but also our communities. Third spaces, such as pubs, are spaces for people to meet, relax and communicate on the things that matter to them. It’s often a place where you develop new ideas, make new friends and deepen your existing relationships.

    These spaces are distinct from our working environments and our homes. From places of worship to sports clubs, barbers to coffee shops; there are so many third places that exist in every community, you might just not have thought of them in that way before.

    The term ‘third place’ was coined by Sociologist, Ray Oldenburg in 1989 in his book The Great Good Place. Within the book, he discusses the importance of the social connections, inclusion and democracy that is developed through these community spaces. Third spaces should be open and welcoming to all. A space that everyone can access and feel comfortable within to encourage conversation and relaxation.

    Creating spaces for communities to gather, connect and inspire is crucial to how we develop our environments at Bruntwood. Third spaces encourage people to talk to others within the area, people-watch and absorb our surroundings more fully than when we are at home or work (first and second places). We aim to do this through the inclusion of amenity spaces within our buildings, including coffee shops, communal lounges, fitness areas and outdoor space.

    But what has all this got to do with Compass Festival?

    Last month, Compass Festival exhibited its final project for the festival year, Public House: The Yorkshire Square, which delves into the idea that ‘the pub of the future has many faces’. The closure of pubs across the UK due to the pandemic has left many endangered, showing both the fragility, and the importance, of the Public House.

    This project, including a 12ft x 12ft reimagining of the iconic pub and 90s music venue ‘The Duchess’ pub will bring connections, conversations and experiences to the heart of Leeds in the Kirkgate Market.

    Artists Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti have worked with Leeds brewers, publicans, campaigners and individuals to explore the future of social landscapes and delved deep into the role of pubs as places for community, exchange amongst generations, entertainment, storytelling and activism.

    Pubs have long been an important part of our society, and act as a crucial third place for many. The loss of these spaces over the pandemic, which saw pubs close their doors for many months, has shown how impactful they are on our lives.

    But, of course, it’s not all doom and gloom – Public House: The Yorkshire Square celebrated the pub culture of past, present and future. As well as foregrounding the rich history of the Public House, the installation also explores how pubs are important to us today, and challenges us to think about what the third spaces of the future could look like.

    Katie and Simon said: “The unprecedented closures of the UK’s already endangered pubs during the pandemic, has highlighted both their fragility and their central place in so many people’s lives. The Yorkshire Square as a meeting place, a talking shop and a heritage hub not only celebrates the role of the pub, past and present, but also looks to the future of these key social landmarks of city, town and village life. Having gone through the crisis of the last 18 months there is a sense of re-evaluation in the air and we hope that audiences leave the Yorkshire Square feeling part of its spirit of conviviality and exchange.”

    Heritage is created by how people live, work and play in cities today. The Yorkshire Square invites you to care more about the third spaces in your life, and consider how they can help shape the social spaces of tomorrow.
    Let’s use this time over the summer, and as restrictions in our favourite spaces start to lift - to reconnect with our communities and let our hair down.

    Genta Haxhija, Social Impact project Manager at Bruntwood said: “Bruntwood believes in providing third spaces through its amenity and community offerings by providing places for our customers and colleagues to gather to innovate, create and connect. We know how important third spaces are for building strong communities; they are able to give us a real sense of belonging and safety. Public House: The Yorkshire Square has truly highlighted the positive social impact spaces like this can have on people to develop meaningful relationships, foster creative interactions, broaden your horizons and just generally have a great time with others. We are real advocates of this ethos!”

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