ABC at The Lab

The Lab launches in Adelaide in defiance of COVID performance ‘crunch.’

The middle of a pandemic might seem an odd time to inject $10 million into creating a new Adelaide arts hub, but for a couple who returned home as COVID-19 ran riot across the Western world, it makes perfect sense.

Nick and Sophie Dunstone launched their not-for-profit venue The Lab on the weekend, with a showcase opening of local artists, including Adam Page, Emma Horwood and MRLN X RKM.

It is the crown in a $10 million investment towards creating a modern art and hospitality hub for the city, which Mr Dunstone said was more important than ever.

“Ultimately, the COVID crisis was the crunch where artists in their capacity to perform creatively was severely hamstrung by all of the social and work-related problems associated with the pandemic.”

“When big events with lots of people are difficult to organise, the need to utilise big technology and online capabilities to connect people has become increasingly important.”

He said The Lab sought to have the intimacy of an artist space typically located “in the classic back room of a pub”, but with the “highest end of both audio and visual technology”.

“The idea emerged to create a hospitality venue and a performance venue using technology to create a digital canvas for artists and performers.”

The Lab features a state-of-the-art 50-square-metre LED display that Mr Dunstone hopes will become a drawcard for “immersive” art.

“The capacity for The Lab is only 250, but it’s surrounded by very high-end immersive LED screens that are used in a way that means you can take the performer, and audience, to anywhere, or any imagination, in the world,” he said.

What also distinguished The Lab from other privately funded spaces, he said, was the fact the high-tech space would not be for hire.

Instead, its art program will be curated by Music SA chairperson Anne Wiberg, one of several well-connected people on Adelaide’s art scene who have helped steer the Dunstones’ vision.

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