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Initiative launched to encourage new audiences to visit grassroots venues

The newly-formed Independent Venue Community is encouraging underserved communities to visit their local grassroots venues

By Nick Reilly

Grassroots music venues (Picture: Pexels)
Grassroots music venues have struggled since Covid (Picture: Pexels)

A new nationwide drive has been launched today (July 19) for music venues to open their doors to people who don’t ordinary attend gigs.

The newly-formed Independent Venue Community (IVC) is the brainchild of the Independent Venue Week (IVW). The new initiative will see a full programme of daytime music activities being hosted at grassroots venues in order to attract new crowds.

According to an official release, the programme places a “strong emphasis on underserved communities and those living in areas of low arts engagement”.

It will also target six specific groups: early years; young people; the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent; mental health and wellbeing; LGBTQIA+, and older years.

The first initial line-up of activities can be found here.

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.”

Bell added: “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.”

The programme is also thought to be inspired by pre-existing community organisations such as the Gig Buddies scheme, which aims to make music accessible for individuals with learning disabilities.

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