University to help local artists establish a lasting legacy

Thu 20 October, 2016
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The University of Bedfordshire has opened applications for its TestBeds programme, an exciting new professional development programme for local artists and creative practitioners.

The University was awarded £375,000 by Arts Council England to support artists and cultural organisations develop the skills to thrive economically, creatively and socially within Luton. It is part of £1.5m investment by Arts Council England to enhance the arts and cultural infrastructure of Luton.

TestBeds is divided into three strands of activity: Arts Enterprise Zone - a public programme of events and seminars; Artist Accelerator - a 12-month incubator programme for local artists just starting out on their careers and; Catalyst Co-Lab - a 12 month collaborative research & development programme aimed at mid-career artists.

As well as free talks, development opportunities, and tailored funding application coaching, the Artist Accelerator and Catalyst Co-Lab programmes also offer £5,000 and £10,000 stipends per applicant respectively.

Professor Helen Bailey who leads the initiative for the University said: “TestBeds has been developed with funding through Arts Council England’s Luton Investment Programme.

“We wanted to find a way to support artists and arts organisations develop the skills to create a thriving business. The Artist Accelerator will do this by providing local artists with access to resources, space, knowledge and skills development to establish a lasting legacy of art and culture in Luton, whilst the Catalyst Co-lab will place artists within the University as visiting artists, leading to exciting cross-disciplinary research projects.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said:“We’re really excited to see this strand of the Luton Investment Programme start to come to fruition, helping to realise the partners’ collective vision for arts and culture to benefit everyone in the town.

“Talent development is an essential part of creating a strong, successful cultural offer and we look forward to seeing local artists and practitioners use this great opportunity to develop their careers.”

Applications are now open for both the Artist Accelerator and Catalyst Co-Lab programmes. For further information or to apply please visit

The Arts Enterprise Zone will be open access to the public. For more information about what’s on, please sign up to the newsletter.



Notes for Editors

  • The Arts Council’s Luton Investment Programme, funded through the National Lottery, is to enhance the arts and cultural infrastructure of Luton, ensuring the town has a cultural offer with something for everyone.
  • With a total of £1.5million over three years, five strands of funding were awarded which are designed to raise ambition, provide development opportunities and foster partnership working in Luton.
  • The Luton Investment Programme has been developed in partnership with Luton Borough Council, Luton Culture and the University of Bedfordshire and involved consultation with a wide range of artists and organisations in Luton.
  • The five different strands of activity are: A creative producer; A new cultural celebration; A public realm arts plan; A professional development programme; A ten year vision and strategic arts and cultural plan for Luton

For further information about the Luton Investment Programme including TestBeds and the University of Bedfordshire please contact  or tel: 01582 489399


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