An unconventional idea, arts@trinity began as an arts chaplaincy, aiming to use art as a focus for the activities of its community. Over time the Holy Trinity Church has ceased to have a permanent minister but successive people have undertaken overseeing the arts programme, with an output as diverse as the talent that exists in Leeds. We chat with Bruce Davies, the Arts Adminstrator about the venue and the concept.
It seems to me that staging gigs in a church can be a little blasphemous: a lot of people do idolise bands, and certainly choose their Saturday night at a gig rather than their Sunday morning at church. However, Bruce argues that the awe inspiring building itself is the focus of the attention. Regardless of religious views it is impossible not to appreciate the architectural brilliance and atmosphere of many churches and ensuring the building remains in use ensures that it stays standing.
‘Anything as far as I am concerned that opens such buildings up and allows people of all persuasions access for whatever reason can only be a good thing. I think it is impossible not to have some thoughts and feelings towards such buildings and their original purpose anyway even if you are only here to see a rock band or an art exhibition.’
Rock stars are hardly known for their clean living habits and angelic lyrics, and strict censorship of this would leave very few acts being able to perform. Whilst being sensitive to the needs of everyone else who uses the building arts@trinity do so without being censorial. It seems that this has not really been an issue for the arts administrators, as the artists are respectful of the fact that they are playing in a church.
‘On the whole artists and musicians who use the space do so because they want to utilise the ambience and architecture as a positive which means working with the building and it‟s meanings rather than against it. ‘
It seems that there is in fact more cross over than you may think between the worshippers and gig goers. Although the crowd isn‟t full of the same people as the congregation, both are there to focus on something, gaze in wonderment, and be inspired.
‘A lot of people do come in during the week just to look at the space and sit in it regardless of whether things are happening here or not.’
Trinity is not a supporting venue to the main act of the band, like many spaces can be. Like all the best venues, the ambience and experience of Trinity is as much part of the event as the art and music itself. The experience of seeing a band in Trinity often compels people to come back during the week to submerge themselves in the aura of the area. Having been stimulated by a gig or event, the church becomes one of the repertoire of places important to someone in Leeds.
One of the special venues indeed, Holy Trinity Church ‘is a resonant space, as opposed to a dead space as some gig spaces can be and the bands tend to play to this using the acoustics of the building for their own benefit. As far as art is concerned it is a highly adaptable venue that has played host to some brilliant and very unusual exhibitions the likes of which you just wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else in Leeds.’
Live At Leeds will be using HTC to showcase 2007 Mercury Prize nominee Fionn Regan, James Yuill, Paul Marshall, who played a gig here at Christmas last year and Marina and the Diamonds.
A testimony to the success of Holy Trinity is the emergence of St John’s the Evangelist on New Briggate, which is just at the beginning of what they hope will become another arts project. Although Trinity is still a working church and the dynamic is completely different, Bruce sees St John’s as an ‘ally’ in his mission to bring art to more people in Leeds. Keep your eyes peeled for a collaborative visual art event between the two being staged later this year.