Initiative to encourage new audiences to visit grassroots venues launches

A new nationwide initiative has launched today (July 19) that will see venues throw open their doors to people who don’t ordinarily attend gigs and other entertainment events.

  • READ MORE: Independent Venue Week 2022 – “Now more than ever, small venues need to be shouted about”

Independent Venue Community (IVC), which has been developed by the founders of Independent Venue Week (IVW), has planned daytime programmes of music-based activities in order to attract new audiences to grassroots spaces.

There is “a strong emphasis on underserved communities and those living in areas of low arts engagement”, press material reads. The initiative will initially target six specific strands: early years; young people; the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent; mental health and wellbeing; LGBTQIA+, and older years.


An initial programme of activities can be found here.

VLURE perform at Future Yard CREDIT: Gary Lambert / Glam Gig Pics

IVC is said to be inspired by a wide range of pre-existing community organisations and programmes including The Warren Youth Project in Hull and the Gig Buddies scheme for individuals with learning disabilities.

Soundcheck Sessions, where young people aged 14 and older can access a venue before it opens ahead of a live show in order to learn how things work behind the scenes and speak with the crew, artists and industry specialists, has also been a key influence.

IVC founder Sybil Bell said: “Independent venues are the absolute heart of the music business, from small villages, to towns and cities, all around the country. What’s less appreciated, however, is the role they can play as community spaces, where local people can express themselves, try new things or simply come together in person.

“From first hand experience, with initiatives like The Warren Youth Project in Hull or our own Soundcheck Sessions and BE, activity like this can have genuinely life-changing outcomes for people, especially those who don’t normally get access to these kinds of opportunities.


“Our goal with Independent Venue Community is to harness these individual pockets of brilliance, and to inspire more venues to engage with groups and individuals in their area. Ultimately, we want to build a national network of engaged local communities, and encourage more music venues to throw their doors open in the day. By doing this, I believe they can increase and diversify the people coming through their doors and unlock significant hidden value and talent. It’s a win-win situation.”

IVC is supported by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales, the Welsh Government, and Youth Music.

The programme is also backed by a range of music industry partners and charities as well as its Founding Ambassadors – and former NME cover stars – Nova Twins.

Nova Twins
Nova Twins, shot for NME by Emma Viola Lilja.

Amy Love and Georgia South of the band said: “Independent venues and the communities that surround them are at the heart of the music industry. They are the foundation of many great bands, technicians and crowds of like minded music lovers.

“This independent ecosystem feeds the whole industry, encouraging new artists to grow and sustain themselves. Without it, the history, culture and existence of today’s UK live music would eventually die. We need to keep fostering diversity within this space, as it’s the make-up of all the music we love, from the bands on stage, to their crews and their fans.

“When we were coming up, we were often one of the few female artists of colour, both on the bills and in the crowd. It was isolating and we were often met with confusion or rejection because of some people’s lack of education and experience. Music is for everyone. People should be given the same opportunities regardless of where they are from, their race or sexual orientation. Everyone should feel welcome and have a safe space to enjoy music freely.

“We’re so excited to be the first ambassadors for Independent Venue Community. We owe so much to independent venues like the Amersham Arms and Camden Monarch in London, they helped us develop as performers and work out the kind of show that we wanted to deliver.”

Arab Strap
Arab Strap have hinted they could have played their last gig

A special event is also being held tonight at Lafayette London to launch the programme.

Panel discussions will be held involving Nova Twins, Philip Selway (Radiohead), Sue Johns (mother of music superfan Big Jeff), disabled musician Kris Halpin (aka Dyskinetic), Dom Frazer (The Boileroom), Paul “Jacko” Jackson (The New Adelphi Club), Angelle Joseph (Ipswich Community Media & Future Female Society), JJ Tatten (The Warren) and spoken word artist Jodie Langford. Music journalist Jude Rogers will moderate the panel.