About Arts Lab


We are an artist-run social enterprise that uses experimental arts practice to
encourage creative thinking, doing and making across communities.

We deliver:

Collaboration and curiosity, experimentation, expression and play are in everything Arts Lab does. We make opportunities for individuals to work alongside artists to develop creativity, encourage risk taking and experiment with materials and ideas. We work in communities who have limited access to artistic making. Through our collaborative partnerships, we provide opportunites for people across communities to feel more connected, expressive and valued.

The Lab

The Lab is a spacious studio based in rural Devon from which we deliver our programme of workshops and events  for the general public, residencies for artists and team building away days for organisations. Based in the heart of the Dartington estate, the 109-square metre space is designed for versatile use, equipped to present exhibitions, video projection and sound and live installation work. We also offer a specialist media suite for hire for film, sound and animation projects.

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What we do

  • In schools and doctors’ surgeries, prisons and people’s kitchens, galleries and gardens, we create pop-up environments to make art together.
  • We provide an open, non-judgemental environment in which to explore and create freely with the guidance of artists across a range of disciplines.
  • We host workshops and opportunities to collaborate, exhibit and develop work.
  • We work with interesting artists and compassionate teachers to ensure that our artistic programmes, exhibitions, performances and events are engaging and thought-provoking.
  • Our events and workshops are designed to inspire creativity in participants and regenerate the communities we work with through a deep, rewarding relationship with the arts that is focused on inquiry and the development of arts practice.
Find out what's on


Everything we do at Arts Lab values:

  • human experience – our human connection and what brings us together
  • learning – supporting transformation by doing, making and thinking
  • experimental art for everyone – engaging artists and individuals at every stage of their creative development
  • freedom to express – exploring and giving voice to individual expression as a fundamental human right
  • art and creativity to inspire social change
  • collaboration in everything we do – when we work together, we are stronger
See our manifesto


The whole concept of social enterprise is really important to us as a sustainable organisation. We want to be a model and motivator for artists to run their own businesses doing what they love whilst making valuable contributions to society.

In January 2018, Arts Lab became a fully registered Community Interest Company – a social enterprise that uses their profits and assets for the public good.

The Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs and funding from Lloyds Bank were instrumental in helping the project to get to this point. Founder, Sara Downham-Lotto, benefited from being accepted onto 2 programmes and in the autumn of 2018, became a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. 

Our Story

Arts Lab was established in 2016 by abstract painter Sara Downham-Lotto. ‘35 years working with people through my practice as an abstract painter has taught me the power of art. It not only helps to make the world a more beautiful place, it brings people together, gets them thinking more creatively and it gives us all hope when things get tough. ’

Based at Dartington, the Lab’s early development has been supported by the Dartington Hall Trust which situates the arts alongside social justice to broaden the reach of audiences and affect positive social change. 

In 2018, the Lab became a Community Interest Company. To date, we have worked with over 20 organisations and 80 artists (30 of whom are 16-24).  

Rooted in visual arts, we are currently developing new strands to include other art forms. This will help to broaden our audiences and opportunities for learning and engagment in art in all its forms.

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Contact Us

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