Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Colby College Establishes Lyons Arts Lab - A Multidisciplinary Incubator

The lab will serve as a creative think tank augmented by industry professionals with the goal of supporting and bringing to life new ideas, concepts, and content.

Colby College Establishes Lyons Arts Lab - A Multidisciplinary Incubator

To continue to build one of the most innovative arts programs at a liberal arts college, Colby College announced today that it is establishing the Lyons Arts Lab. With a focus on developing and realizing original student-driven projects, the dynamic new lab is the result of a $5-million endowed gift from Colby Trustee John Lyons '85, P'22 and Susannah Gray P'22, who currently serves on the Board of Governors at the Colby College Museum of Art.

Launching this fall, the Lyons Arts Lab will be a collaborative incubator to create groundbreaking, interdisciplinary work. The lab will serve as a creative think tank augmented by industry professionals with the goal of supporting and bringing to life new ideas, concepts, and content developed by Colby students. It will provide resources, including funding and mentorship, to test, focus, and refine creative projects so they can ultimately be performed for and experienced by the public.

"At a time when Colby is opening three new art centers and our arts programs are evolving in exciting ways, the establishment of the Lyons Arts Lab opens the door for thrilling new possibilities," said President David A. Greene. "Providing students with the resources to create original films, plays, compositions, and more will fuel the creative spirit of this community and prepare students for careers as artists and arts leaders. John Lyons knows this well. The films he made as a student at Colby led to a lifetime of filmmaking and award-winning visual storytelling. John and Susannah have been innovators throughout their careers, and their generous and visionary gift will ensure generations of Colby students will follow that path."

Opening Pathways for Students to Explore Artistically


The Lyons Arts Lab will be housed in and leverage the extraordinary assets of the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, which will open in the fall of 2023. As the most advanced arts facility in the region, the Gordon Center has been purposely designed to be highly collaborative and multidisciplinary in nature. With a unique combination of multipurpose performance areas and studios designed for teaching, performing, and creating, the facility will also have multimedia and interactive technology to support all types of performances and works, including films produced by the new lab.

"This gift is meant to help students have their dreams take shape in the real world and transform their ideas into something that they produce, see, touch, and that other people can experience," commented Lyons. "It will provide a sort of scaffolding and infrastructure for creative growth and realizing creative ideas-whether it's having a professional reading of a play, going down to New York to have a hands-on experience with a working artist, or mashing music, dance, science, and math all together for a one-of-a-kind performance piece."

Lyons added that he also hopes the lab will help students be braver and bolder and act on ideas that they wouldn't have otherwise if the lab didn't exist. "The goal is to open pathways for kids to explore artistically; to tempt them to take risks, and yes, give them a place to fall down artistically but also get back up and learn from their mistakes."

Funding, Working Artists and a Summer Series


The Lyons Arts Lab will focus on and support a number of key areas. First and foremost, will be providing students with resources and funding, including stipends so they can launch early-stage original work and engage in creative experimentation with professionals-from writers and directors to filmmakers and composers-to develop those concepts.

Work that is funded by the lab will be encouraged to involve multiple disciplines and to push the boundaries of those disciplines, genres, and mediums in ways that incorporate collaborative thinking and problem-solving that is central to the liberal arts.

Funding will support a wide range of performance aspects-from developing unique multimedia effects or costumes for films to hiring a specific type of actor or musician-with the ultimate goal of showing the work to the public.

The lab will incorporate an ongoing series of visiting artists and artists in residence who are currently working in their respective fields. In addition to engaging with students and faculty to help them develop their work and artistic practices, these artists will have the opportunity to create and present their own work, teach classes, and offer master classes and workshops. Artists chosen to participate in the program will be involved in multidisciplinary and multi-modal work that is also contemporary in nature.

The Lyons Arts Lab will also extend into a summer season, which will provide unique opportunities to attract prominent artists to campus and Waterville. The goal will be to leverage the new Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts so that artists can incubate and perform their original works in collaboration with students and Colby faculty.

"The arts are such a critical part of a liberal arts education for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they offer a unique way and language for looking at and analyzing the world," commented Susannah Gray. "Regardless of one's major or career path, you can learn so much by understanding how to interpret the world through the different mediums of the arts."

She also noted that as a society we need to regain the courage to support the arts. "My hope is that the amazing work that will be produced by the new lab will inspire others to step up and really support and appreciate those who are active creators."

The Lyons Arts Lab will join the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation, the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, and the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship as the fourth major lab that the College has created in the last six years. Colby Labs bring together multidisciplinary approaches and partnerships to offer students and faculty hands-on opportunities to identify and test solutions to the world's most important challenges.

Colby College


Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America's most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Colby's innovative and ambitious campaign, Dare Northward, is supporting deeper connections between the college and the world as well as a fully inclusive experience for all Colby students. Colby is home to a community of 2,000 dedicated and diverse students from more than 80 countries. Its Waterville, Maine, location provides unique access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.



SHREK THE MUSICAL Comes To Marshwood High School Photo
A hilarious fairytale is brought to life as Marshwood High School presents Shrek, The Musical.

First Stats Released For The BroadwayWorld Maine Awards; Watervilles TUCK EVERLASTING Lead Photo
The first live standings have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Maine Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

Matt Flinner and Low Lily Will Perform Winter Solstice Show at Middlebury Town Hall Theate Photo
Grammy-nominated bluegrass mandolinist Matt Flinner again teams up with award-winning American Roots band Low Lily to celebrate the Winter Solstice!

City Theatre to Present CHRISTMAS MY WAY: A SINATRA HOLIDAY BASH Next Month Photo
City Theatre will present Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash at City Theater in Biddeford. Performances are December 2-18 (no performance Dec 4) Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 Sundays at 2:00.


More Hot Stories For You


SHREK THE MUSICAL Comes To Marshwood High SchoolSHREK THE MUSICAL Comes To Marshwood High School
November 22, 2022

A hilarious fairytale is brought to life as Marshwood High School presents Shrek, The Musical.

SYREN Modern Dance Announces 20th Anniversary Season, Celebrating With 20 Engagements Across AmericaSYREN Modern Dance Announces 20th Anniversary Season, Celebrating With 20 Engagements Across America
November 21, 2022

SYREN Modern Dance, New York City based company co-founded by Lynn Peterson and Kate Sutter, announced their 20th Anniversary Season, which is being celebrated with 20 different engagements across America, including workshops, performances, guest teaching appearances, and more.

Matt Flinner and Low Lily Will Perform Winter Solstice Show at Middlebury Town Hall TheaterMatt Flinner and Low Lily Will Perform Winter Solstice Show at Middlebury Town Hall Theater
November 21, 2022

Grammy-nominated bluegrass mandolinist Matt Flinner again teams up with award-winning American Roots band Low Lily to celebrate the Winter Solstice!

City Theatre to Present CHRISTMAS MY WAY: A SINATRA HOLIDAY BASH Next MonthCity Theatre to Present CHRISTMAS MY WAY: A SINATRA HOLIDAY BASH Next Month
November 19, 2022

City Theatre will present Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash at City Theater in Biddeford. Performances are December 2-18 (no performance Dec 4) Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 Sundays at 2:00.

Fenix Theatre Company to Present 12TH NIGHT: SHAKESPEARE & SONG, Portland's Newest Holiday TraditionFenix Theatre Company to Present 12TH NIGHT: SHAKESPEARE & SONG, Portland's Newest Holiday Tradition
November 17, 2022

Fenix Theatre Company will present a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that's fit for the season. Directed by Fenix Artistic Director Peter Brown, 12TH NIGHT: SHAKESPEARE & SONG shimmers, shines, and delivers festive cheer for the whole family. It runs December 7-18, 2022 at Stevens Square Community Center in Portland.