Independent Venues Week celebrates our grassroots music scene

Photo by- Amadeusz Jasak

Following last year’s successful launch, Independent Venue Week is back even bigger and better for 2015. Supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme, the week long celebration of local venues runs from 26th January – 1st February with programmes at more than 85 venues across the country, including London’s Half Moon Putney and Dublin Castle, Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, Kazimier in Liverpool, the Hull Adelphi and the Leadmill in Sheffield. Expert curators will include BBC Introducing, Xfm, Rough Trade, Domino, Fierce Panda and Club Fandango.

IVW co-founder, Sybil Bell said: “We’re excited to help make January a really great time for music fans to go to their local venue and see some great live music, and hope they continue to support their venues throughout the year.”

Small and independent venues are vital to the health of the UK music scene, providing a platform for young local artists, allowing established acts to mount accessible tours and bringing together fans who are passionate about music, both with gigs and ‘alternative’ club nights.
Helen Sprott, Arts Council England’s Music Director, described independent music venues as “nurturing both audiences and talent”. Independent Venue Week was set up to support them in their culturally significant role, and with five times as many venues participating this year, it seems to have struck a chord throughout the industry.

More and more small to medium sized UK venues are struggling financially with many being forced to close. Factors include an increasing expectation that new music should be free, and a music business that engages with new talent earlier than ever before. Gentrification also contributes – the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town was bought by Youngs for a gastropub and Brighton’s Blind Tiger was closed after local noise complaints.

Other event supporters include PRS for Music, UK Music and The Musicians Union. PRS for Music’s Head of Marketing Paul Sims said: “These venues are the lifeblood of the live music scene and our many members who perform there. Up and down the country night after night, they provide a crucial platform to new and breaking acts to hone their stagecraft and to try out the songs they have written in front of an audience of live music fans.”

Frank Turner, this year’s IVW Ambassador, will headline two special shows, one at Brick Lane’s 93 Feet East, the venue of his first ever gig. Other participating artists include Peace, Seth Lakeman, Andrew Weatherall, Edwyn Collins and Frankie & The Heartstrings.
Check for a full listing of gigs in your community, and watch local press and social media for further announcements, let us know how you get along!

Edited: Laura Thompson

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