L19 Guest Blogs: Meet Maria Popova of Page 127 - Leeds International Festival
Chapter 81

L19 Guest Blogs: Meet Maria Popova of Page 127

In this guest blog Q&A, we catch up with Maria Popova, the creator of Page 127 – one of Festival Executive Gemma Holsgrove’s stand-out events from the 2019 festival.

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

Q: How did you find out about Leeds International Festival?

“I’m not sure I can recall, but it is more than likely that I saw an online call out; ironically for a dance artist I spend about 70% of my working time on my computer.”


Q: Why did you want to get involved?

“It was the first year that Leeds International Festival introduced the OFF programme – aimed at exposing and supporting local artists – which I thought was a really big step for the festival. I feel very passionate about arts and culture and the art scene here in Leeds, so the potential of working with like-minded people was what drew me in.”


Q: Tell us about your event. What did you submit, and did it evolve before its final iteration at the festival? What did the festival do for you / your brand?

“I submitted an installation performance event which was still in development at the time. As far as that description goes, it is exactly what was presented. However, in terms of the work itself, it had half a year, two residencies and an international performance to evolve and solidify before being performed at L19. But I found Leeds International Festival to be a great experience in general, whilst it also proved to be good exposure for the work; both the shows at The Leeds Library were sold out.

I think the highlight for me was partnering with The Leeds Library on the delivery of the project. They are a very special organisation with staff who are super-supportive, positive and open to arts and culture, which is immensely refreshing in such a codified space.”


Q: What do you think of Leeds’ creative landscape?

“I think it is something to be incredibly excited by; there seems to be a creative buzz around Leeds that is drawing more attention to the city. I think everyone should start tuning into this, whether you’re a creative or not, as it is something to be proud of and to enjoy, especially during such turbulent times (when it comes to our socio-political climate).

Art brings people together and opens up dialogue in the best and most unpredictable of ways, but there still needs to be more support for the local artists and organisations that are making this city come alive. There have definitely been some positive changes in terms of investment and support from larger funding bodies and audiences but are we able to keep this up if we don’t continue growing as a united community?”

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

Q: Is Leeds changing? How are festivals and events such as ours shaping the city?

“I think the international status of the festival is a key factor, and something that holds great potential for the festival and for the city.

I feel that now more than ever it is important that we reach out internationally, and stay in-tune with what the art world has to say. It is important that we keep challenging ourselves and our audiences by bringing new life and new perspectives to Yorkshire through artistic exchange.”


Q: What’s changed, personally or professionally, from you having taken part in L19? How did the event go for you?

“L19 came at a strange time for me – in the midst of a whirlwind of other projects and new challenges – so I am still digesting the experience two months later. The event went incredibly well. It’s always such a relief to receive such positive feedback after something you’ve worked so hard on, and this has been priceless in terms of driving my productivity. I’ve also been able to afford to do some development workshops abroad and book new performances off the back of L19, so it’s doing its part.”


Q: What advice would you give to someone entering the open call for L20?

“Apply! Seek advice and get your questions answered, there is always a solution for whatever stands in your way, just don’t feel like you have to do everything alone! It’s all about building; building yourself, your work, your community, your networks etc. So let’s all build together.”