What is a PAL Lab?

A PAL Laboratory is a multi-disciplinary process whereby a group of people come together to address a topic of mutual interest to come up with new solutions, new work, new ideas, new practice or simply refine the topics that they are passionate about. Usually our labs are residential, but we also run one day labs.

What makes PAL different is that we always involve artists in all our work. We aim to create a space where everyone works together to explore and experiment and to develop their practice and curiosity.

A great Lab involves between 8 and 15 people coming together over 4-6 days in remote beautiful residential spaces, to address the key issues that the Lab Director has framed or to develop new work in specific areas e.g. storytelling, movement and geography, ritual, new approaches to education, creation of new theatre, developments in free speech in complex times.

We know that despite our best efforts to advocate for a different sense of time to make new things happen, we do curate shorter labs for the right people – an afternoon or a day. The process is similar.

What is the PAL process?

We help the Lab Director/Partner hone the question or issue. The Lab Director will either be one of us, or someone who has come to us with a specific question or commission they would like to work on with a group of peers from different areas. We work closely with the Lab Director/Partner to identify a good mix of participants with an interest and commitment to the topic. We also identify potential people to contribute stimulus during the course of the lab. The space the lab takes place has to be conducive to good human interaction. The alchemy of people that are brought together is critical.

All participants contribute to a pre-Lab dossier and commit to an emergent, open, and curious process. They also commit to making and working during the process. It is a fully multi-disciplinary process. Participants develop the Lab journey themselves. There are no tutors or files of handouts to take away. Participants come to PAL to push the limits of their practice and to make new work. Everyone on the Lab is considered an expert, bringing their own ideas, experience, skills and commitment to bear on the challenge addressed and on each others ways of thinking and working.

PAL Labs does not have the answers. We provide light but deep facilitation, and participants shape the emerging process and outcome of the Lab. What we do have is a way of working which enables Lab participants to ask bolder questions, to find imaginative solutions and to influence positive change.

After the Lab, participants are able to participate in publications, talks and events to bring the Lab to life to other interested people.

What does a Lab Director do?

The Lab Director holds the questions/issue/work that happens on a lab. A Lab Director can be someone we identify or someone who comes to us with a special proposal. We at PAL help them shape the Lab and the participants according to our tried and tested methods. The Lab Director also helps with fundraising where necessary and at the end of each Lab will write a short report for publication.

How do I join a Lab?

We want to hear from artists, scientists and practioners from all disciplines, and from adventurous professionals, who want to challenge the way that they work or address a specific problem or question. Tell us about why you would be interested in taking part in a PAL lab and how you think we can help you develop your work. When a Lab has a formal application process it is detailed on our website. Subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on twitter to be kept informed.

Who are Labs for?

Labs are for committed people who are passionate about what they do
 who want to challenge the way they work
 and who are prepared to share their practice, working on a peer-to-peer basis with others. Labs are often focused on a specific discipline or sector, however our process is a genuinely cross-disciplinary one. We create our labs with artists at the heart of the discussions whether the lab is about new technology, science or education.

We have a strong process developed in recent years of amplifying the Lab process through talks and publications. The impact of a Lab lasts for years after the event, and the connections you make with other practitioners are long lasting.

Why are you called PAL Labs?

The first PAL Labs were rooted in the performing arts – theatre, film, opera and dance. Over time we recognised that PAL’s core methodology could be usefully applied in many different sectors – anywhere, in fact, where there is always a need to find new ways of working and to make new work across disciplines. Though we have widened our field of activity over the years, artists from all art forms continue to play a key role at the heart of all our Labs.



We have two PAL questions for you? What do you wish you could be doing now that you’re not doing? And… Who would you want to work with who could challenge and support you to do this? Susan Benn
PAL Founder and President