Culture LABs

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Culture LABs have been part of Metal’s programme since 2010.   We run at least three of these LABs each year – one in each of our spaces (Southend, Liverpool and Peterborough) but often more than this if we can raise additional funding.

Each LAB brings 10 artists together for one week, for an intensive period of development.   The LABs come in different forms. Sometimes it might be specific to a discipline, for example focused on literature, or in the case of Culture LAB: Inkhead on comics’ artists. At other times, we might set a theme, for example, Protest and Propaganda and bring together a mix of visual artists, musicians, writers etc to share ideas across artistic disciplines. The value of these LABs for artists is in providing focused time, away from work and domestic commitments, to reflect on their practice and develop new ideas and projects, alongside an opportunity to learn from each other and inspiring, guest speakers that we invite into the process to stimulate thought and debate.

In the last three years, we have also adapted the model of the Culture LAB so that it is suitable for young people.  In Southend, this has been in partnership with SoSlam Collective to work with young singer/songwriters and in Peterborough, in partnership with NEACO for young performance poets.

Our Culture LABs are open call so that they are open to any artist or young person to take part – appropriate to the theme/discipline.


Current opportunities include:-

Information about LABs in Liverpool and Peterborough to be posted soon – both taking place in March 2019.



Recent LABs have included:-

2018 – Culture LAB: Inkhead – for comics artists from across the UK working with 3 guest artists from India, in partnership with Laydeez Do Comics and  Guest speakers included Warren Ellis and Gary Spencer Millidge

2018 – Culture LAB: Writers House – for young performance poets in Peterborough, in partnership with NEACO.  Guest speakers included Dean Atta.

2018 – Culture LAB: Arts in the Community – for artists working in different disciplines living in Suffolk, in partnership with Suffolk Libraries.  Guest speakers included Sue Mayo and Shabnam Shabazi.

2018 – Culture LAB: Essex Writers – for writers working in all genres, living in Essex, in partnership with Essex Book Festival. Guest speakers included Rachel Lichtenstein.

2018 – Culture LAB: Young Singer Songwriters  –  for ages 11 – 19, aimed at musicians and lyricists living in South Essex.  Guest speakers included Dave Randall and Lydia Kitto, with tutors Davey Hal, Darren Jones and Nicola Collis.

2017 – Culture LAB: Changemakers, Southend  –  part of an organisation-wide project working with 24 artists who work with the ‘othered’ body and movement.

2017 – Culture LAB: Changemakers, Peterborough – the Changemakers project ran three LABs with disabled and non-disabled artists over the course of 18 months, with commissioned work as a result.

2017 – Culture LAB: Changemakers, Liverpool – all the work commissioned as a result of the LABs were shown as works in progress at Unlimited Festival, Southbank Centre on 6 September 2018.






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