Have a creative business idea or interest? Want to take it to the next level?

To launch Hat Works, the re-launch of the Hat Factory Arts Centre and promote Luton Culture’s commitment to creative talent, we invite applications from creative, design and digital entrepreneurs to become Creative Pioneer Members of the Hat District in central Luton.

Photo credit @nesabymakers on Unsplash

Photo credit @nesabymakers on Unsplash

What we will offer you:

Year 1 – start-up:

The opportunity to use spaces at the Hat Factory Arts Centre. You will share this space with other Pioneer Members to develop your business ideas, engage interest in your work and grow your clients and new markets. The start-up year also includes:

  • 12-months’ rent free shared space from September 2019

  • A start-up grant of £100

  • Arts Centre and Café discounts

  • Access to Creative Business Mentorship opportunities

  • Access to Artistic and Creative programmes at the Hat Factory

Year 2 – step-up:

Upon successful completion of the above, we will offer:

  • Free Business Step-up dedicated workspace for 12 months at Hat Works

  • Free membership of Hat Works (see below for more details)

  • Bespoke support from a Creative Business Mentor from within the Hat District to help you to develop your ideas, plus access to a range of business development opportunities and engagement activities related to your pitch

  • Excellent opportunities for networking and exposure

Year 3 - stand-up:

Having, by year three, used the time and support available to grow your business idea, markets and income, we anticipate that you will be working independently. This will give you choices going forward about where you choose to be based. We hope you will choose one of our next-stage spaces at the Hat Factory Arts Centre. In doing so, you will be able contribute back into the creative economy by helping the new start-ups that will be entering Hat Works and looking to you as a role-model!

What we will expect from you;

  • Animate and showcase your creative business ideas in spaces at the Hat Factory Arts Centre to engage with audiences and visitors, and to contribute to the creative ecosystem of the Hat District by attending and contributing to network and events.

  • Work collaboratively with other Pioneer Members, us and our creative partners to shout loudly about the talent and creative industries that grow from and out of the Hat District and how Luton is a great place work.

  • Provide ideas, user-advice and advocacy as we set up Hat Works, and inform the design, marketing approaches and development of the membership at events and promotions leading-up to the opening of the building in Spring 2021.

How to apply:

If you answer yes to the following questions then read on:

  • Do you have a creative business idea/interest that could start generating income for you in the future in the fields of Architecture, Making, Design, Fashion, Music, TV + Film, Creating, Tech + Digital, Games, Advertising, Arts + Culture, Publishing?

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  • Are you self-motivated and do you have the drive and ambition to work hard towards the success of your future creative business?

  • Do you understand who your customer/client is and have you got an idea about how you could engage with them to buy your product/services?

  • Do you contribute to working as a team towards success, and do you work well in a shared workspace environment?

  • Are you already or keen to be connected to the networks of artistic and creative talent in Luton?

  • Do you buy into the Luton Culture Trust charitable and cultural values of being passionate, relevant, inspiring, distinctive and ethical (PRIDE) in everything that we do?

  • Are you willing to share your time, ideas and opinions to help Luton Culture grow its membership, promote the Hat District and support creative entrepreneurs just like you?

Photo credit @invictar1997 on Unsplash

Photo credit @invictar1997 on Unsplash

If it’s seven yes’s then please apply by sending us a short film-clip (3 minutes maximum) within which you describe/show/demonstrate your creative business idea/interest and tell us something about yourself to hatdistrict@lutonculture.com.

Upload capacity is currently 10MB. Deadline for applications by midday 10th June 2019.

Next steps

Inspired by what we see we shall invite you to a Creative Cafe event in mid June in the Hat District to meet, chat, and share ideas. The people who we feel best fit the ambition of the Hat District will be offered this opportunity.

More information:

The Hat Factory Arts Centre is a major hub for creative businesses in Luton. Developed from an historic hat factory originally constructed in 1927, the building offers a mix of business and workshop space, a theatre, live music and dance spaces and a café. Located in the heart of Luton’s town centre, the building is within 100 metres of the train station and is one of Luton's leading arts, entertainment and creative venues.

Hat Works is the oldest hat factory in Luton and sits as a cornerstone within the Cultural Quarter between the station and The Mall shopping centre. Luton Culture Trust is refurbishing this building, which has been empty for ten years and it will become a member space for small-scale creative practitioners, micro digital businesses and graduates with enterprising ideas for business. Hat Works is part of a wider £10m Hat District regeneration project transforming old hat factories and building new work/production spaces specifically for the creative industries led by Luton Culture Trust.

Hat Works will provide affordable, inspiring and shared workspaces located within easy reach of London Luton Airport and the M1 corridor, and is just 22 minutes by train from London St. Pancras. A key focus of the project is to keep new, thriving businesses and creative individuals within the town, developing a growing talent pool and generating a vibrant creative eco-system and community that increases in strength.

Creative Spaces Hat Works will provide entry-level access for creative, design and digital entrepreneurs and practitioners wanting to develop business ideas, services and/or products and/or to test markets. The creative workspaces are split across the three levels and include a shared large-scale workshop on the top floor with windows on three sides and benches equipped for different scaled works across different media and start-up pods. There is also a large, well-lit communal social area on the ground floor for collaborative working, eating and member socializing. The Hat Works facilities are Pay As You Go (PAYG) and bookable in advance for half days throughout the week or longer periods.

Membership – annual membership will provide access to the workshops, co-working spaces and social spaces on a PAYG basis. An annual fee will be charged and then an additional PAYG usage charge shall be made for booking a desk space, shared workshop space, equipment, training and technical support and meeting rooms. Within the annual membership fee, we will provide access to training, mentoring, and networks alongside bespoke business advice to help grow creative micro-businesses. Hat Works’ location within the Cultural Quarter, and function as the reception for all Hat District visitors, will further expose members to talent, collaborators, inspiration, wider business networks and markets.

Progression – members who are ready to take on a dedicated space for their business start-up can rent start-spaces/pods within Hat Works and bigger spaces at the Hat Factory Arts Centre. As creative businesses grow they can then progress into independent spaces at the nearby Hat House and Hat Studios. We will encourage all successful creative businesses to re-invest their time, expertise and opportunities back into the membership through training, mentorship, work-shadowing, talks etc. This is how the creative ecology feeds itself and grows.