We Are The Lab! – Kirsty Wilkins

A little about me

I am Kirsty Wilkins. Chair of The Lab as well as part time Operations Manager. I have been on the Committee & Staff in several different roles since November 2014. My initial experiences of ‘The Labour Club’ were the legendary gigs hosted by Andy Skank in my teenage years featuring bands like The Retro Spankees, Cave, Magic Skoolbus and Misty’s Big Adventure. Soon after, around 2012, I was playing here with my band The Tearooms. Then I was brought back by Jonty’s Jam, which was and still happens on a Tuesday evening, playing a really crucial role in hosting a regular space for the core community to meet. I now play in The Lunar Trixies and Karl Phillips & The Rejects. I am a mother of two, aged 2 and 7.

The Lunar Trixies at The Lab,
On stage with The Lunar Trixies

What does The Lab mean to me?

The Lab is an absolute passion project and lifestyle for me. It has given me immense purpose, endless opportunities to develop skills and learn about myself, and most importantly given me a community to belong among people who accept me as I am. 

As an organisation we have come through so many challenges and continued to grow and grow, very slowly, as a grassroots music venue, and as a Co-operative. I absolutely adore the Lab, the reason I work tirelessly and have always strived so hard for it, is that I just can’t begin to imagine Northampton without it. And it has been that close to the wire at times. I joined the Committee in November 2014 at a ‘Save The Labour Club’ Meeting. We are still fighting hard to become sustainable and financially viable, but the community inside absolutely thrives. 

Meeting at The Lab,
Crunchpoint meeting in 2019

Why is The Lab so loved by the Northampton Community?

It has for a long time been a hub for grassroots activity of all kinds. Northampton is itself a unique and rebellious town. You just need to look at the Political activism of Charles Bradlaugh, the anarchist and magician Alan Moore to see some of the strongest faces of the rebellious heart of Northampton. 

Referred to as the belly button of England, Northampton is a place of eccentricity. 

Art is crucial to the grassroots process, as is grassroots crucial to art culture. Osho said ‘Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence’. He is a questionable source of wisdom arguably, but I can stand firmly behind that sentiment!

We provide a platform for musicians of ALL genres to explore and develop their craft. As a musician myself, I can tell you that you don’t just ‘do a band and get famous’! Playing gigs is about practising performing your music without crumbling into a nervous wreck in front of the audience. It’s about learning what your music really means to you. Creating and expressing ourselves is a means of our spirit thriving. 

Why do we need venues like The Lab?

Music Venues Trust describes independent grassroots music venues as the research and development department of the music industry. Without these venues, there would be no Beatles or Bowie. We are SO proud to be a starting block for many bands who have seen great success in different ways and also to be an intimate stop on tours for plenty of bands who are thriving in the music industry. 

It is widely accepted that children must play in order to be healthy individuals and in order to develop. I have a very strong feeling that play is supposed to continue into adulthood, all the way through our lives. This is what makes the difference between being alive, and LIVING! All of the participatory opportunities that we provide on stage. Spoken word, jam nights, Sunday project, art jams. You can either enjoy these events as somebody who is honing their craft for a career move, or to publish their art. Or equally as a person who is looking for an outlet to express, know themselves better, challenge themselves or connect with other humans. 

The Lab Community enjoying an Open Day August 2022

The Lab strives to create an environment to build connections, integral to our survival as an interdependent species. So many people have told us they find it a safe environment to be yourself.

Essential venue for grassroots movements

The Lab is an ideal and well used meeting place for grassroots activist groups. This is SO important at the moment particularly. Post Brexit Britain. Rising prices. Climate Emergency. 

It is so absolutely essential that people get together and take action of whatever means possible and necessary to improve the lives of people and the future of our World! 

Look out for more of people’s stories

We will be inviting number of members from the Lab Community to share their experience and perspective of what The Lab means to them. Get in touch if you would like to share yours.