The Birmingham Arts Lab remains one of Birmingham’s most important cultural revolutions. Founded in 1968 and inhabiting a ramshackle former youth club on Tower Street in Newtown, the Birmingham Arts Lab was one of several radical art spaces across Britain established as a result of the late 60′s counter culture. From its post-68 revolutionary beginnings to the fevered experimentation of the early 70s, the Birmingham Arts Lab was improvised, rough and ready. It drew a host of colourful characters including performers, artists, producers, musicians and writers who took experimentation to new heights amidst a make-shift environment which included “the world’s most uncomfortable cinema”, a coffee bar described as ‘poisonous’, and a theatre auditorium constructed from pallets. Oh, and people sleeping under the floorboards.
“In the late sixties Arts Labs sprang up like mushrooms across the country. You could say it was almost like going indoors after the ‘Summer of Love’. Even David Bowie took a year out of the music business to run an arts lab in Beckenham.” — Terry Grimley
Participants: Ernie Hudson, who established the first independent Arts Lab Press; founder of the Arts Lab Sound Workshop, Jolyon Laycock; comic artist and illustrator Hunt Emerson; founding member of the Birminingham Fim Makers Co-op Tony Bloor; film librarian Neil Gammie; film programmer Tony Jones; and Terry Grimley, latterly arts correspondent for the Birmingham Post.