testbeds arts enterprise zone will provide 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 fundraising journey, to attend all sessions. The programme is as follows thus far; more events will be added soon for 2019:

Thursday 31st January 2019

Luton Creative Forum
UK Centre for Carnival Arts, Luton
Time: 4.30pm-6pm
RSVP by emailing: Michaela.Nutt@luton.gov.uk

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. This is an important event for creatives working in Luton as it will help develop partnerships and strategic knowledge, enhancing funding bids and networks. The agenda for each meeting changes, and there are usually opportunities for artists to share their practice with the group. For more information or to join the forum please email Cultural Enabler Michaela Nutt at Michaela.Nutt@luton.gov.uk.




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.

We will be sharing more events soon for 2019


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 *