We are an artist-run social enterprise that uses experimental visual art to connect artists and communities for mutual benefit.
Our opportunities for groups and individuals to work alongside artists, encourage experimentation with materials, techniques and ‘out of the box’ ideas. Developing creativity in everyone can help boost morale, opportunity, a sense of purpose and confidence for positive change. We work with people with limited access to artistic making and through our collaborative partnerships, we help individuals across communities to feel more connected, expressive and valued.
Collaboration, curiosity and play underpin everything that Arts Lab does.
You wouldn’t be alone in wondering what relevance art has in times like these. But 30 years working as artists across communities has taught us the power of art as a life-changer.
Our mission is to inspire creative thinking and transformation across communities with hands-on involvement with and appreciation of modern art. Given the opportunity to explore, experiment and express, not only are we helped to overcome obstacles and to make better decisions, we become better collaborators and have a broader understanding of our own, each others’ and the wider world.
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.
Everything we do at Arts Lab values:
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.
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.