Participants of the TestBeds project

Funded by Arts Council England through the Luton Investment Programme (LIP), TestBeds was the first of its kind as a university-led artistic and entrepreneurial skills hub. The team initially developed their sector support model through TestBeds activity, which was delivered from 2016-2019.

An externally funded 12-month incubator for early-career, locally based artists and creative practitioners. Inspired by the tech industry start-up model, the programme immersed artists in a university-led hothouse for ideas. It accelerated careers and pushed artists to develop their practice into thriving, socially-engaged creative enterprises.

An externally funded 12-month collaborative research and development laboratory for mid-career artists and arts innovators of any discipline. With a thematic focus on collaborative practices and partnership working, artists explored their practice in the context of the artist as a catalyst for change, place-maker or global citizen.

An externally funded 6-month programme for locally based artists and artistic organisations, who either work with or represent specific Protected Characteristics as defined by the UK Equalities Act.

The programme mentored participants through a responsive programme of skills development before being mentored to apply for funding that demonstrates a step-change in terms of taking their organisation to a new level of impact.

An ad-hoc programme of flexible events, networking opportunities and surgeries that were designed to support Bedfordshire's local arts practitioners.

  • Assisted 24 creative practitioners engaged in Artist Accelerator and Catalyst Co-Lab to develop over 75 interdisciplinary arts exhibitions, performances and curated events as part of 22 national and international creative commissions.
  • Supported creative practitioners to develop over 515 new collaborative partnerships across 14 interdisciplinary industry sectors internationally.
  • Guided local practitioners to form international partnerships and activity in: Egypt, Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Korea, Sweden, France, Russia, Germany, Croatia and Palestine.
  • Supported the development of 28 new artistic/academic partnerships with local creative practitioners and UoB academics of various creative and non-creative specialisms.
  • Delivered 155 Arts Enterprise Zone workshops to local sole traders and SMEs.
  • Linked creative practitioners to UoB academic faculties in order to deliver 106 hours of teaching to UoB students.
  • Delivered six conference days in two years, including a Sector Leaders Symposium, where over 25 national universities and large cultural organisations discussed partnership opportunities between the cultural sector, universities and local authorities.
  • Collaborated with the Institute of Research in Media and Performance (RIMAP) to publish a book entitled ‘Developing a Sense of Place’ (2020). This included a co-authored chapter by Arts and Culture Manager and the Director of RIMAP: “A model for University-Town partnership in the Arts: TestBeds.
  • Contributed to a Socio-Economic Study conducted by Hatch Regeneris, looking at the impact of UoB locally (2020).