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


Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th November 2017

University of Bedfordshire Luton Campus, Cultural Quarter, Luton and other participating locations in the town.

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a sense of place: arts, enterprise and placemaking, is an interdisciplinary conference that will bring together arts funders, policymakers in local and regional government, artists and academics through a discussion of the impact of art practice on ‘a sense of place’.


call for papers: extended deadline

The University of Bedfordshire is particularly interested in hearing from academics and professionals engaged in urban design, town planning and human geography. The perspective of how these fields engage with arts and culture to design and regenerate public spaces would be welcomed. 

Please read the call for papers here. 

To apply please complete our online form by midnight Sunday 24th September 2017. 

All proposals will be reviewed and you will be notified of the outcome by Monday 2nd October 2017.

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© Stephen Whiting


a sense of place

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.


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.

To learn more about the Luton Investment Programme, including its fourth strand, Imagine Luton, please click here

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© Stephen Whiting


register to attend

Registration for the conference will open shortly. Please ensure you have signed up to our mailing list to receive information about early-bird tickets. 


© Stephen Whiting