testbeds arts enterprise zone provides Luton-based artists at all stages of their careers the opportunity to access a needs-driven hub for knowledge-exchange and creative enterprise development


© R. Cherry


Upcoming events

We encourage you, no matter where you are on your journey, to attend all sessions. The programme is as follows…more events will be added soon.

Saturday 16th March 2019

#Extreme Writing Workshop for 16-24 year olds’.

Room A004, Sir Ian Dixon lecture theatre, Park Square


Ever thought about writing your own script but not sure where to start? How do you write about political situations relating to Brexit; how do you create characters with conflicting views? This workshop is an opportunity to gain the skills to push your storytelling and scriptwriting abilities beyond limits. Receive professional advice on how to create characters, structure a plot and write dialogue so you can make your stories come to life. You don’t need any previous experience in writing: just be aged 16-24, have an open mind and a lot of imagination!

We only have 20 places available and booking is necessary. To book your place, please email Johanne Hudson-Lett on: johanne@revolutonarts.com.

Wednesday 20th March 2019

Beds Talks: Women, Violence and Art

Ground Floor Lounge, Postgraduate Centre, Luton Campus

12.15pm-3pm (approx)

This is a panel of acclaimed artists and scholars who come together to talk about how women artists respond to violence through their art. The event is followed by free lunch and wine, and it is open to everybody.

The guest speakers, women artists, resident in the UK, and natives of Iraq, Syria and Turkey, will draw on their own creative work to demonstrate how they confronted and responded to discrimination and violence using art as a means of empowerment and activism. The focus on women artists for this event is an acknowledgment of the crucial role of women in shaping public debates about violence and war and also in bridging the gap between cultures.

The event is convened by Professor Noha Mellor and Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska, University of Bedfordshire. Featured speakers:

- Prof.Noha Mellor, University of Bedfordshire

- Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska, University of Bedfordshire

- Sara Shamma (visual artist, Syria)

- Itab Azzam (film producer, Syria)

- Hala Hindawi (TV presenter)

- Dr Eylem Atakav, East Anglia University

To book your free place, please visit our Eventbrite page.

21st, 22nd and 23rd March 2019

University of Bedfordshire, Luton Campus

Harnessing Creative Collaboration - strategic partnerships with universities

Three days which explore strategic partnerships between arts organisations and Higher Education institutions in the development of the UK creative economy:

Thursday 21st March
The conference opens on Thursday with its main day of programming. Exploring the main theme of the conference will be established artists and arts organisations, alongside academics and strategic leads from universities nationwide. The day will include a variety of talks, presentations, provocations and workshops, making it possible to consider the role of partnerships between universities and the creative and cultural sector.

Friday 22nd March
Day two focuses on the education sector, and how partnerships between universities, schools and creative organisations can ensure excellent cultural education for all. In attendance will be young people from local schools and colleges, and educational stakeholders such as ROH Bridge and Cultural Education Partnerships.

Saturday 23rd March 2019
Our final day of the conference will see the local creative community coming together to celebrate collaborations and partnerships. In a diverse offering of performances and exhibitions, artists and creative practitioners will be testing and sharing their work. There will also be opportunities for creative freelancers to access information clinics through testbeds Artist's Enterprise Zone.

Call for Submissions

Harnessing Creative Collaboration - strategic partnerships with universities.

Strategic Partnerships Between Arts Organisations and Higher Education Institutions in the Development of the UK Creative Economy.We welcome perspectives from across arts, culture and education to share reflections, including examples of best practice that demonstrates strong partnership between the creative and cultural sector, schools and higher education providers. Submissions can include the following:

  • Talks and/or presentations

  • Case studies

  • Performance events/exhibitions of practice

  • Workshops

Please submit a 200-300 word proposal/overview by using our online submission form.

what we have delivered to date

Over the past two years, testbeds has delivered a responsive programme of activity for Luton’s creative and cultural sector, with talks, workshops, seminars and clinics offering guidance in the following areas:

  • Bid writing support and guidance

  • Guidance on using Arts Council England’s portal Grantium

  • Methods for evaluations creative and cultural projects

  • Developing local/national strategic partnerships

  • Diversifying income

  • Embedding Arts Award in arts education projects

  • Making the case for cultural diversity

  • Understanding Applied Practices

  • Managing your finances as a sole trader

  • Different types of company: charities, Limited, CIC’s

  • Working in schools

  • Conducting Risk Assessments

  • Working with universities and higher education providers

  • Sharing local best practice

  • Support with marketing and advertising

  • Online Presence: social media and blogs

  • Scriptwriting advice

  • Youth Enterprise Zone: Social Media Marketing for 16-24 year olds’




The testbeds arts enterprise zone is a needs-driven programme of training and skills-development opportunities designed to help people that work or volunteer in Luton in the arts, culture or creative sectors to increase their capacity to thrive in whatever they do.

We recently asked the Luton creative community to tell us what they wanted from the arts enterprise zone. A summary of what was said and what we will offer is below. If you would like to contribute to the enterprise zone programme, contact us and tell us what you would like to see offered. 


you told us what you wanted

We asked the Luton arts community to tell us what was needed from our training programme.  Here is what you said: 

  • You want practical help with completing funding bids and approaching funders.

  • You want development in strategic thinking, leadership skills and business planning.

  • You want help with professional resilience, particularly in sustaining outreach work and partnerships.

  • You want to build networks across different artistic and creative disciplines.

this is what we will deliver:

7th June 2018: Practical help with completing funding bids
Access to specialised help in completing funding bids, outlining the changes to ACE funding with arts funding experts.

21st June 2018: Diversify your income sources
A workshop in diversifying income, delivered by sector experts.

28th June 2018:  Understanding diverse groups and meaningful networks
Presentation from industry experts on the understanding of both working with and creating meaningful networks.

19th July 2018: Introduction to evaluation processes
University of Bedfordshire Arts & Culture Team deliver an introduction into understanding evaluation processes. 

30th July 2018: Network building
Delivered by Royal Opera House Bridge, information about building connections and collaborative partnerships. 

16th August 2018: Reviewing unsuccessful funding bids
Testbeds offered applicants to the recent round of the Luton Arts Fund, the opportunity to understand the criteria of the fund in detail and workshop their unsuccessful applications.

30th August 2018: Digital Presence and Social Media Management
Rae Leaver delivered a workshop and opened a discussion about what to put online, what networks might be useful to you and how best to utilise them. We learned how to generate and manage content as an independent creative practitioner or small organisation.

6th September 2018: Successful Bid Writing
The University of Bedfordshire's Innovation and Enterprise Team delivered an invaluable workshop on understanding how to write successful bids. Sharing bid writing skills and the key elements to be aware of that exist throughout all bids.

13th September 2018: Branding - Breaking down your brand into bite size chunks
This workshop covered the most important elements you need to think about to get everything moving forward, so you can start building reputation… and most importantly… profit!

20th September 2018: The Luton Creative Forum
The Luton Creative Forum is a network of artists and arts workers that meet every two-three months to share opportunities, discuss best practice and form working groups to address the goals of Luton’s 10-year strategy for the arts, cultural and creative industries 2017-2027.

11th October 2018: Roundtable - Creative Case for Diversity
Themed around the Creative Case for Diversity, Essex Cultural Diversity Project and TestBeds hosted a round table discussion.

18th October 2018: Spotlight Session - Spotlight on Imrana Mahmood
The spotlight was on Imrana Mahmood, an emerging Creative Producer who is committed to redefining the arts scene by increasing participation, collaboration and inclusivity.

1st November 2018: Self-Employment for Creative Freelancers
This was an invaluable workshop for all creatives, whether self-employed or thinking about going it alone. Haiders accountants, led by Ali, discussed the tax advantages and pitfalls that everyone should be aware of.

8th November 2018: Blogging Workshop
We learned about popular blogging platforms, finding your USP, and creating consistency of content/posts.

15th November 2018: Spotlight Session - Sophie Gresswell
The spotlight session focused on Sophie Gresswell - a Luton-based artist working to challenge perception of identity through visual arts, combining traditional and digital methods to simultaneously represent and distort a subject.

29th November 2018: What can the Arts teach us about leadership and teamwork?
David Murphy presented “Listening Leaders – Listening Teams”, an interactive session using music to explore primal issues of leadership and teamwork.

23rd January 2019: Round Table Discussion
In partnership with Central Bedfordshire College

31st January 2019: Luton Creative Forum
The Luton Creative Forum is a network of artists and arts workers that meet every two-three months to share opportunities, discuss best practice and form working groups to address the goals of Luton’s 10-year strategy for the arts, cultural and creative industries 2017-2027.

27th February 2019: Beds Talks - 'Script to Screen: Writing, Producing and Launching a successful film.’
An expert panel included filmmakers with experience in writing, directing and producing movies. The speakers discussed their successes in both short films and feature-length films.

4th March 2019: Youth Enterprise Zone - Social Media Marketing for 16-24 year olds’
This event has been organised by Revoluton Arts in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire.


testbeds arts enterprise zone is a flexible programme that will respond to the needs of the creative community in Luton

If you have suggestions for training, resources or opportunities that would enhance your creative capacity, please get in touch. This programme is for, by and with the people of Luton, so make it your own.

Name *