TestBeds Catalyst artist Phillip Stanier in 'I talk to the trees but they don't listen to me' an outdoor piece in Luton's Hightown ©Rachel Cherry


The conference took place at the University of Bedfordshire, Luton's Cultural Quarter, and other participating locations in the town on Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th November 2017.

Artists engaged in a range of art forms, artistic and cultural practices are exploring new concepts of home, community, and location. Our sense of place has been challenged by societal and technological change leading to concerns over location mapping, population movement, suburban development and the dislocation of community. Creative practice allows us to explore these changes and test new scenarios which in turn have important benefits for social cohesion, rural and urban identity and public impact.

Placemaking as a concept is receiving considerable interest and is deployed across a range of professional, policy and academic domains as a means of both intervention and knowledge production in relation to public space, cultural policy, participatory practices, identity and community engagement. In the light of significant challenges to notions of globalisation and international mobility, placemaking becomes a further contested and challenging locus for debate. It is an inherently multidisciplinary endeavour which relies on collaboration and partnership working.


© Stephen Whiting


© Stephen Whiting


about the conference

This conference is a part of the Arts Council England-funded testbeds project based at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton. testbeds is part of the unique Arts Council England Luton Investment Programme, a £1.5m investment over three years into the development of arts and culture in Luton that will ensure that this super-diverse town has ‘a cultural offer with something for everyone’. testbeds brings local, early-career creative practitioners together with internationally-renowned artists and immerses them in a hothouse for creative innovation. The project focuses on developing artists from diverse backgrounds as placemakers - enhancing their capacity to make a lasting difference to Luton and spearheading innovative, cross-disciplinary research into the employment of arts and culture as catalysts for change.

The Luton Investment Programme also includes As You Change So Do I, a public realm arts programme which explores creative ideas, projects, projections and art in public spaces with visitors to, and users of central Luton. The project is led by Luton Culture in association with lead artist and Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner. The Programme also supports the new Ten Year Strategic Vision for the arts, cultural and creative industries in Luton which has a focus on placemaking and links to the wider strategic vision and ambitions for the town which are set out in the Luton Investment Framework 2015-2025.

You can learn more about the Luton Investment Programme, including its fourth strand, Imagine Luton, here

A Sense of Place is supported by Luton Borough Council and Luton Culture through As You Change So Do I.

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© Stephen Whiting