Case Study – AFN Network+ and the “Big Tent Event”

A person stood at the front of the room, smiling, ready to present at the AFN Network+ “Big Tent Event”

Event Overview:

Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), AFN Network+ connects key thinkers, leaders and stakeholders, to drive the food and farming system towards a net zero UK by 2050.

The inaugural “Big Tent Event” was a two-day conference and official launch of Network+, featuring a varied programme of plenaries, panels and workshops.

Brief and objective:

The objective was to explore the transformation of the agri-food system, whilst showcasing our work to date and inviting our Community of Practice to network and foster new collaborations.

We were looking for a modern venue in Leeds city centre, that offered a fresh and vibrant feel, in synergy with our purpose. The conference agenda included a mix of plenary and breakout sessions and to accommodate this, we were able to utilise the whole of Cloth Hall Court.

Three images. People sitting around tables, smiling and chatting at a conference in Leeds

Why did you choose Cloth Hall Court?

From the photos and information we’d received, we knew that we would have exclusive use of the venue and that it could provide everything we needed. Plus, it looked like a great environment to inspire the types of discussions and topics we’d be covering.

From our initial enquiry, Helen Raby in the University of Leeds Conferences and Events team was very communicative and supportive when discussing our brief and requirements.

A selection of images. People working at Cloth Hall Court in Leeds

How did you choose which spaces you wanted to use, or did you utilise the whole venue?

 We needed a main room that could accommodate 100 delegates theatre-style, three smaller breakouts, a catering area for lunch/dinner and a couple of smaller rooms for recording sessions and meetings.

Helen helped us with choosing the most suitable spaces for our needs. The main plenaries were held in The Tweed Suite, with a range of simultaneous classroom-style breakouts in the smaller rooms. We used Merchants Hall for networking refreshment and lunch breaks.

The Tweed Suite with lots of people sat around tables watching a presentation at a conferences in Leeds.

The Tweed Suite

What were your catering requirements & did Great Food at Leeds create anything bespoke for your event?

We wanted our menu to be as sustainable as possible. To help achieve this, the catering team provided sourcing information for all food items and they created a bespoke menu especially for our event. They ensured that the food was mostly vegan/plant based, with less of a focus on meat, and sourced some organic chicken for us via a local supplier.

Food images from the buffet table at the conference in Leeds.

a selection of the salads served at the event in Leeds at Cloth Hall Court

What were your AV requirements?

These were fairly standard – mainly microphones and screens for PowerPoint presentations. Each room in the venue was well equipped, to a high standard, with everything we needed and more.

What was the guests’ feedback?

Many of our guests commented on how light, airy and clean the venue was. They were also very impressed with all of the staff at Cloth Hall Court, especially how friendly and helpful they were.

A smiling person presenting at the event in leeds


This was the first event I’ve ever hosted and the staff at Cloth Hall Court were amazing – so kind and friendly, so helpful, and I feel that they made the event run so smoothly. There were no issues with timings or equipment, it felt very professional and easy! I received a lot of comments about how well the event was managed and I think this was mostly due to how organised and professional the team at Cloth Hall Court were. If we ever do an event in Leeds again, I’d definitely consider returning to Cloth Hall Court.

Jessica Nuttall – Project Coordinator, UKRI AFN Network+ | University of the West of England | Department of Applied Sciences