programme and application information


programme information

The catalyst co-lab is a 12-month collaborative creative laboratory aimed at mid-career artists. Artists spend 12 months immersed in a University of Bedfordshire academic department, school, centre or research institute. Artists and creative practitioners expand their knowledge of the social, political, scientific or technological practices that inform their work and examine the ways in which their practice can be informed by, and inform, other disciplines.

Participants investigate how they, using a thematic focus of catalyst for change, global citizen or placemaker can make a lasting difference to the communities of Luton. They access the University’s network of national and international partner universities to inform and expand their practice and establish relationships for partnership and exchange.

This is a programme for mid-career artists who are looking to engage in cross-disciplinary research in order to significantly further their career and expertise. As a catalyst artist you will form the testbeds cohort of eight early-career artists and four mid-career artists. The cohort will be cross-disciplinary and will challenge, support and collaborate with each other.


as a participant you will receive:

•    12 months of support, training and mentorship

•    A £10,000 stipend to support training, development and living expenses, paid over three instalments

•    Access to relationships with the University’s national and international network of partner institutions, including universities in Poland, Oman, Myanmar and Sri Lanka

•    The equivalent of one day a week access to creative/studio space (day/time dependent on requirements and availability)

•    Fortnightly supported co-working and collaboration space

•    Monthly seminars, training sessions and networking opportunities

•    A series of professional-development intensives designed to push your capacity to practice as a placemaker, global citizen or catalyst for change.


the programme is divided into three phases:

phase one - collaborative laboratory

January to June 2017

In this phase you will be immersed in a University of Bedfordshire academic department, school, centre or research institute. You will engage in cross-disciplinary research & exchange in order to expand your knowledge of the social, political, scientific or technological practices that inform your work. In addition to this, you will establish a partnership with a Luton-based organisation and begin to explore how your practice can make a lasting impact on Luton as an artists as catalyst for change, global citizen or place-maker. Specifically, this will be done through: 

•    Workspace in an academic department, school centre or research institute;

•    Studio space at the equivalent of one day per week (day/time dependent on requirements and availability); 

•    Monthly seminars, work-in-progress and networking opportunities;

•    Fortnightly supported collaborative co-working days;

•    A 2-day professional development intensive.

Towards the completion of this phase you will participate in a week of ‘Demo’ activity. Inspired by tech start-up ‘demo days’ you will present your work and research-in-progress to audiences and potential partners. You will give masterclasses or lectures and meet with peers to establish partnerships and collaborations.


phase two - project development

June to August 2017

During this phase you will develop your Phase 1 research into a collaborative research or practice-led project and work with your academic department, school, centre or research institute to develop your project to funding application stage. Collaborative partnerships with the University’s partner institutions will be explored in order to develop knowledge of national and international contexts for your practice. With intensive support from the testbeds bid-writing surgery artists will submit exceptional funding applications for further research or project-development. Specifically this is done through:

•    One day a fortnight of access to the testbeds bid-writing surgery and collaborative co-working space;

•    Access to creative studio space at the equivalent of one day per week (day/time dependent on requirements and availability); 

•    Monthly evening seminars and networking sessions that will widen networks and facilitate Luton-focused partnerships;

•    A 2-day professional development intensive.

Towards the completion of this phase you will participate in, and contribute to, the first testbeds conference: Artists, Enterprise & Place-making. you will have submitted applications for funding to the Arts Council International Development fund, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and other funding agencies.


phase three - outreach project

September to December 2017

Throughout this phase you will develop exceptional mentoring and leadership skills by mentoring two accelerator artists to deliver outreach projects with young people in Luton. In collaboration with ROH Bridge and the University’s Access and Outreach team, you will gain further insight into the needs of communities in Luton and establish yourself as an artist as placemaker, global citizen or catalyst for change. 

At the completion of this phase you will have developed collaborative relationships with third-sector organisations in Luton, gained valuable mentoring & leadership skills and further developed your national and international networks. 



important dates

Applications are now closed for TestBeds 2017.

 Programme commences: Thursday 19th January 2017



applicant criteria

The catalyst co-lab is designed to give established artists and creative professionals the resources to develop partnerships that will further develop their research and artistic practice.

The following criteria applies:

•    Applicants must be a current practicing mid-career artist from any discipline including the visual & performing arts, digital arts, writing, music and public art. We expect that a mid-career artist will have a career spanning over 15 years and a significant independent body of work that has been performed/exhibited/published both nationally and internationally. Artists are required to have a body of work that responds to, or impacts current local and global social issues.

•    Applicants must be able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to, and expertise in, exploring their practice in socially-engaged contexts. Applicants must also demonstrate a significant interest in applying their practice to local Luton-specific contexts as placemaker, global citizen or catalyst for change. 

•    Applicants should demonstrate some experience and interest in furthering their practice through research contexts. 

•    Applicants do not have to be from or based in Luton or the UK to apply but must be able to commit to the demands of the programme. International artists are encouraged to contact us to discuss alternative models of engagement (such as intensives) should they be interested in applying.



participant guidelines

•    Participants must be able to commit to the equivalent of two days per week for the full 12 months of the project (Jan-Dec 2017 inclusive). 

•    Luton-based collaboration events are expected to take place fortnightly on Thursdays for the duration of the project. Attendance at and participation in these events is expected. 

•    Luton-based training events are expected to take place monthly on Thursdays for the duration of the project. Attendance at and participation in these events is expected. 

•    Access to creative spaces will be provided to participants of the project. The nature and timing of this access will be dependent on artist requirements and space availability. Participants are expected to treat these spaces with respect and willingly share spaces with current University of Bedfordshire students and staff. 

•    Participants will be required to regularly contribute digital content to the website of the project in the form of work-in-progress discussions/showings (Images, video, writing) and participant diary entries/blogs. 

•    Participants are expected to work collaboratively and generously with other artists and will be required to mentor early-career artists through the delivery of their outreach projects in the final three months of the programme. 

•    Stipends are awarded in instalments and up to 25% can be used for living expenses (for UK applicants, international applicants may be able to apply to use a higher percentage of funds for living expenses) and the remainder should be used for training and project development purposes. All expenditure is subject to approval by project management and a record of expenditure will be required to be provided to project management each quarter. 

•    The University of Bedfordshire reserves the right to remove a participant from the programme should they violate the guidelines or spirit of the project. 

•    Participants will be required to sign a Participant Agreement in relation to all of the above.



application process

There are two stages to the catalyst co-lab application process: an online application form and an interview/presentation stage.  

1.     Application Form

There are three sections to the application form: 

a) Standard Questions (contact details, artistic practice), upload an artist’s CV and provide links to/upload a folio of work.

b) 500-1000-word responses to the following prompts:

  • Describe your creative practice and highlight some of the successes that you have experienced throughout your career. Identify what inspires and informs your work and how your practice reflects and responds to current societal issues. Explain what you think the current limitations of your knowledge and networks are and how catalyst could help push your limits.
  • Indicate how you may choose to collaborate with one of the University's partner institutions either in the UK or abroad. How could a potential collaboration with an institution situated in a different kind of community contribute to your research and development? How could national or international research & exchange increase your capacity & impact as an artist? A list of the University's Partner Institutions can be found here. Please note that any collaborative relationship with University Partners is subject to agreement by the University. No discussions, partnerships or collaborations should be entered into prior to agreement by the University. 

  • Tell us which thematic focus you will choose if selected for the programme: artist as catalyst for change, artist as global citizen or artist as placemaker and clearly define how your practice relates to these themes in a specific Luton context. Identify how you envisage your participation in catalyst to have a lasting impact on the people and communities of Luton.

c) Project Proposal: As part of the application process applicants must submit a 1500-word proposal that identifies two things:

  1. The Department, School, Centre or Institute  in which they would like to be based for the year-long programme (from a list of proposals or propose their own) and;
  2. A Luton-based organisation or type of organisation with whom to partner. Applicants may select a particular organisation (London Luton Airport, Youthscape), or a type of organisation (aged-care centre, architectural firm).

Applicants must use their proposal to detail the nature of the proposed collaboration and the desired outcomes. More information on the proposal requirement is available here. It is highly recommended that you discuss your proposal prior to submitting your application. Please contact us to do so. 

You will be able to save and return to your form once you start it, however it is highly recommended that you draft your responses prior to beginning and paste them into the corresponding fields.

2.    Interview/Presentation

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to the interview/presentation stage. Interviews will take place on Monday 5th or Tuesday 6th of December 2016. Applicants will be required to present a 15-minute presentation to a range of University and community members on their proposed collaboration and participate in an interview. Applicants will be required to answer further questions regarding their practical and research goals and will have the chance to ask questions about the programme. Applicants will also be required to present a budget for how they would allocate the stipend if accepted into the programme. More information will be provided at invitation stage. International applicants will be able to present/interview via Skype. 


apply to catalyst co-lab


Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by Friday December 16th