Events space launched for the post-pandemic era

The Wunderkind Group, the organisation behind Sheaf St, Duke Studios, Duke Makes and In Good Company, has launched “testbed”, a 10,000 sq ft events space for Leeds.

It is intended to “reinvent” mass gatherings for the post-pandemic world.

The space, located on Butterly Street by Crown Point Retail Park, will host everything from conferences to comedy, theatre to sporting events and music to art.

Founders Laura Wellington and James Abbott-Donnelly are inviting consultation with stakeholders in the city’s events community so they can hear from a diverse range of voices on how a covid-safe space might best work for Leeds.

The events industry has been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, with restrictions shutting down everything from gigs to corporate events to food festivals and constantly-changing guidelines making it difficult to plan.

Abbott-Donnelly said: “Even when it’s been possible to put events on this year, capacity has been a huge problem.

“Venues that normally hold 400 people are reduced to hosting 40, and it just doesn’t work financially.

“Add to that the fact that Leeds has a real lack of large spaces that could accommodate bigger groups while maintaining social distancing and the city’s had a real problem.

“Fortunately, with testbed we’ve got the chance to create a solution.”

Wellington added: “Space is a big part of it. But while that breathing room might keep people safe, it doesn’t necessarily create the best experience.

“With testbed we’ve got a blank canvas to design events in a way that’s pandemic-proof.

“We’re really focused on designing a space with the flexibility to cope with the unexpected, but also to provide an amazing home for Leeds’s larger cultural events and conferences regardless of whether ‘normal’ has been turned on its head.

“We are really excited to be able to shape this space with and for the city.”

Testbed will begin hosting socially-distanced events in early 2021, operating in a research and development phase that will inform a complete fit-out later in the year.