Initiative launched to encourage new audiences to visit grassroots venues

A new initiative launched today from Independent Venue Community (IVC) will help venues support people who don’t normally attend gigs or grassroots venues to do so.

Photography by Rob Jones

A new initiative launched today by Independent Venue Community (IVC) will help venues support people who don’t normally attend gigs or grassroots venues to do so.

The project will see a number of daytime music-based activities taking place in grassroots music venues across the country, in a bid to enable new audiences to these grassroots spaces.

Developed by the founders of Independent Venue Week, material for the program states it places an emphasis on encouraging those from “underserved communities and those living in areas of low arts engagement”.

Specific groups the new initiative will initially target includes early years; young people; the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent; mental health and wellbeing; LGBTQIA+, and older years.

Group of people having fun at music concert

Sybil Bell, founder of Independent Venue Community, has explained how the project has been inspired by other schemes, including The Warren Youth Project in Hull and the Gig Buddies scheme, which both help those with learning disabilities attend events.

Equally, the new project took inspiration from Soundcheck Sessions, which gives young people aged 14 and older access to a venue before a show in order to give behind-the-scenes access to how everything works.

“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,” she said.

“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 scheme’s founding ambassadors, rather impressively, are London pop-punkers Nova Twins. 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.

Nova Twins

Nova Twins are the scheme’s founding ambassadors.

“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.”

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