We are an artist-run social enterprise that uses experimental visual art to connect artists and communities for mutual benefit.

We deliver:

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.

Our Mission

 Our mission is to inspire creative thinking and social 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

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.
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Everything we do at Arts Lab values:

  • human experience – starting with what we share and what can bring us together
  • learning – supporting transformation by doing, making and remaining forever curious
  • playful, 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


As a sustainable organisation, social enterprise is really important to us. 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 a 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.

Since becoming a Community Interest Company in 2018, we have worked with over 25 organisations and 90 artists (45 of whom are 16-24).

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