Chair persons Report – Kirsty Wilkins

AGM 30 April 2024

The Lab as a ‘Safer Space’

We are working on ways we can deeply explore how people can be helped to feel safe and included in the space. Our Arts Council Funding Application which we are waiting to hear back from is Titled – Anti Racism & Inclusivity. As part of it we have applied for funds to work with Northants Rights & Equality Council, to collect meaningful feedback & Investigate our processes & organisational structure. 

We host diverse events of all genres, and support and encourage anybody who wants to put on their own events. We have prioritised diversity and inclusivity as an genuine aim and discussion, particularly over the last couple of years. Hosting numerous events which are led by the black communities, RnB, dub, black history & carnival. We have ensured that genres like the folk events, which have been traditionally very white, have been spotlighting diverse acts. There is always more that we can do and will continue to do so.

There have unfortunately been 2 incidents at the Good Vibes Open mic, which were unacceptable and which has made the host feel like she wanted to change location. Both included inappropriate heckling which escalated when people were asked to stop. Both of the people in question have been barred. Neither of them had been well known by The Lab or the community prior to the incidents. We are asking questions about why it happened, and how we address incidents of this nature? Both of the people in question have been barred. 

Many many people have previously referred to The Lab as a safe space to be yourself. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee the behaviour of every individual at all times, but we can commit to taking any incidents very seriously

We do not accept racism, misogyny, discrimination or Prejudice. We do understand that we are operating in a society where many of these forms of discrimination are deeply imbedded, or remain as a subconscious aspect of individuals, if not conscious. We are learning all the time how we best address these issues, how we learn from each other & professional organisations. Sometimes we will get it wrong, but we do care very deeply and strive constantly for The Lab to be a safe space for all people, particularly those who are marginalised or vulnerable. 

Aside from what we can do organisationally, we can at least work on our individual knowledge and understanding of these things, learning about our history and other people’s experiences. To do the work on ourselves is such a huge part, in digging out unconscious bias, prejudice or fear. We plan to collect feedback from visitors, acts &  We would like to host several workshops, talking groups to work over the coming year. We would like to collate an educational library. Any other ideas would be most welcome. 

Representation on the committee, staff & volunteer base is essential, to help people feel safe and to ensure as many voices as possible are being heard in the process of steering the club’s aims & activities.  We will ensure that our committee meetings & processes are flexible to meet the needs of anyone who wants to be part of it. We feel that if someone can’t make the meeting they miss their opportunity to contribute is no longer acceptable and the committee will go out of its way to include everybody in discussions. 

Project Updates


In partnership with Growing Nai, we obtained funding from Northants Community Foundation for Pause.

Pause is a 6 month self / community care program tailored to support 10 local Northamptonshire musicians, prioritizing applications from musicians from marginalized groups within our society.

The program will include:

  • One self-care workshop a month where we will build on well being habits such as journaling, meditation, light yoga/stretching and other therapeutic tools lead by professional facilitators 
  • A FREE meal for each participant at The Lab at each workshop
  • Self care materials provided such as journals, massage oil, yoga mats
  • The opportunity to shape the programme to your needs using the form below
  • An invitation to perform in an intimate Live Lounge gig held at the end of the programme at The Lab with photo/video footage to be used for self promotion
  • A sense of community within a supportive group of local musicians and local facilitators
  • A 1-1 check in session before and after the programme 


    The Hushed funding culminated in December last year. To show for it we have many, many wonderful videos of acts at The Lab. Please see them on our youtube.

    Family Fund WNC

    We have funding from West Northants Council to support Family Activities. This included a trial of the Caribbean Social Club/Northants youngers youth club on Monday evenings. It also includes our Saturday afternoon opening hours, during which we have been hosting family friendly events such including craft workshops, a children’s party. It included a bursary to pay a local artist to paint the planters outside. This opportunity was advertised and the successful applicant was our very own Marco!  We have a Clay workshop upcoming with Tamsyn on 11th May. We will also have 2 family jams included as part of this project, which is ongoing to October. We implore people to come and use the space on Saturday afternoons.


    We would love to host more club activities, particularly member-led clubs and possibly teams. For example, chess club, a darts team, dominoes, coach trips and outings! Please do let us know if there is anything you would like to see happening.


    Jane who with Shelley’s support is leading the womble every Monday at 10am, for which she has been by herself for the vast majority of picks. We really need more people to help with this. We’ve had great feedback from the community and have recently delivered a leaflet in both English & Romanian to all of the surrounding area. Please help!

    Heritage project

    We have been exploring a possible heritage project. Its still forming as an idea of how it might be formed. Partnering with Russell Hickman, it would be looking at the history of The Lab/The Labour Club, including preserving and processing all of the old documents and artefacts still in the building. It would likely include interviews from faces present and past about the Club, and we would like to explore what the Lab does in relation to other community organisations that have existed in the past within Northampton. We have met with The University of Northampton for some advice and support, as its something very new to us. If you are interested in taking part in this potentially project let us know.

    Kitchen Updates

    Dom left the kitchen at the end of December. He had been running 2 kitchens, here and at the Pomfret as well as maintaining a part time position at his employed job. 

    Robin joined us in January for a start up venture in the few weeks leading up to his move away to ‘Manchester?’ It was a joy to watch and a privilege to support, as well as being grateful to him for allowing us to have a continued menu available. 

    On 11th February Charlie of Lambrianou’s joined us. He has a beautiful family and maintains his job working at the Porsche kitchen. He had worked with Dom previously as so was familiar with our kitchen and The Lab. He has seen much success, particularly on Sundays, as well as some other event nights. The struggle continues of different events bringing different clientele which can make business very unpredictable. He hs now taken the decision to discontinue Tue-Thur unless specifically requested. 

    We are exploring other avenues of ways to be able to consistently have food available, whilst it being nutritious and low cost especially during the week nights. We believe that having food available at all times is key in people reliably coming here to eat. 


    Our last arts council funding came to an end in December, so as of recent we’ve not been able to take many risks, which is why we have been hosting fewer in- house gigs as the Lab and welcoming more Promoter led events. 

    Promoters have been asked to cover £100 sound engineer & £50 booking fee. Unfortunately we are competing in business with The Garibaldi in particular who are doing a lot of similar events, and do not charge this to promoters. However they do not have the flexibility of space, quality of sound system, and other perks that come with the uniqueness of the Lab.

    We have applied for the next Arts Council Funding which we if successful we should receive by the end of May. 

    We plan to apply for the Awards For All as well to support a lot of the participatory and community focussed events, as well as West Northants Council for funding to support the local community. 

    We would like to plan some Fundraisers. Any ideas welcome, the more creative the better. We would like to host something similar to our fabulous open day which was supported by Northamptonshire Community Foundation. We could ask people to donate an hour or so of their time to run workshops, and play music and ask for donations instead of charging for the workshops. 

    We are in a really really difficult financial situation as Morgan has kindly outlined but we have to keep positive and be creative. We are much more than a financial organisation. We all know we aren’t here to make a profit (luckily) but to serve the community.

    Thanks to

    Thank you Sheila & Pam who work tirelessly together as secretary and vice-secretary to manage membership, minutes and put in numerous hours in the office on Tuesdays.

    Thanks to Morgan who has taken absolute responsibility of improving the accuracy & understanding of our finances. Consistently balancing my optimistic & determined outlook by reminding us of the reality of the financial situation. 

    Shelley who is still looking after our financial data input and VAT returns. 

    Jane for her hours wombling, along with Shelley. and looking after the planters outside. 

    Thank you to all of the door team who spend many hours welcoming people & helping to sign up members. This last year has really helped everyone to understand how the membership works, and therefore increasing our membership base. This team includes Pam, Sheila, Morgan, Jurgita, Jane, Peter and Lara.

    Peter for poster collecting, distributing, door stewarding and general tidying. 

    Graham for hours and hours of time volunteered in rectifying electrics and PAT testing.

    Thank you to Richard, who as vice-chair has been chairing the majority of the committee meetings. I have great trust in his extensive experience in community organisations and his ability to be fair.

    Ashley for his entrepreneurial and cultural input, as well as bring the Restoration Sound System on a regular basis. 

    Thanks to all of the rest of the committee for turning up to meetings and contributing. 

    Jonty for keeping The Jam night continuous and welcoming. 

    Tamsyn for all her support making tonnes of great posters and professional guidance with projects. 

    Thank you to Tim Cook who has volunteered to maintain and make changes to the website.

    The bar staff, whose diverse skills and personalities make time at The Lab a unique and special experience. Especially James who again has worked so incredibly hard to keep the bar up to scratch and be the one on call at all times. 

    All the sound engineers & promoters who have continued to be part of the time and using the venue for what it was made for. 

    Russ Hickman particularly & the rest of the Landlord group for being patient and supportive. Working on the building, fire risk assessment and procedures. 

    Everybody else who has volunteered, donated, renewed their membership, put on gigs, attended gigs, shared online. 

    Thanks for being members, thanks for coming.

    I’m not sure what many of us would do without The Lab, and that is why we will continue to ride the waves and fight for its existence in a society that desperately needs spaces for people to exist in their truest form and connect.