Summary The project investigates how to establish critical-creative environments for artists and educators as engaging learning laboratories. It explores collaborative exchanges in ensembles (teams of performers who share a common educational/creative goal). What happens when artists and educators jointly engage in critical-creative practices in a shared learning laboratory? Expected outcome is new knowledge on how cultural partnerships sustain alternative ways of teaching and learning as critical-creative competence. This is core to learning and to democratic participation that can empower communities through agency and collective action, a form of ensemble performance. The field-trip to UK and partnership with University of Chester is the frame for empirical work and educational rethinking.