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Why Independent Venue Week 2021 will be more important than ever

It’s back in January, celebrating live music venues and the people who run them

By Alim Kheraj
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It’s no secret that independent venues around the UK have struggled this year. Multiple lockdowns have decimated the live-entertainment industry, and according to reports in September more than half of staff at venues across the country have been placed on furlough, with employment in the live entertainment sector falling by 15 percent. 

All of this makes initiatives like Independent Venue Week all the more important. Each year, hundreds of grassroots venues across the UK take part in an exciting week of live music that celebrates independent live music venues all around the country, while championing the people that run them and the communities that they foster. 

Good news, then, that despite the challenges, Independent Venue Week has announced that it will be returning in 2021 for its eighth year. 64 venues from various villages, towns and cities around the country have already signed up to take part in events between January 25 and 31, with rising singer-songwriter Arlo Parks revealed to be an ambassador.

‘Independent venues are the backbone of live music,’ Arlo Parks said of her appointment, ‘and I’m determined to help to support and protect these national treasures.’ 

In London, a number of events have already been announced, including gigs at The Clapham Grand, Omeara and Bush Hall, with more shows to be revealed in the coming weeks. 

Of course, the organisers of Independent Venue Week know that things are precarious at the moment. And with the implications of the relaxation of rules around Christmas currently unknown, things are going to have to be different. 

‘It’s clear Independent Venue Week won’t be the usual seven days of hundreds of shows with three-artist bills this year, but this presents us with opportunities to dig deeper and hear from a whole range of people and organisations about their role in grassroots live music, often from those who are behind the scenes,’ said Sybil Bell, founder of Independent Venue Week. 

‘We have spoken to lots of our venues since lockdown started in March as well as partners we work with who make shows happen, and very early on, so many people asked us to make sure Independent Venue Week went ahead and that it was needed now, more than ever.’

Across the country, a number of independent live music venues have shared the difficulties they’ve encountered this year, with many launching crowd funders in order to stay afloat. This includes the #SaveOurVenues campaign, which has raised over £3 million so far to help prevent venues from around the country from closing down. Last month, an interactive map was launched that detailed some of the London venues that were at immediate risk of closure.

‘Initiatives like Independent Venue Week are crucial in showcasing fantastic talent in grassroots venues,’ said Caroline Dinenage, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. ‘2021’s event will help shine a spotlight on emerging stars and give audiences a chance to enjoy live music safely in wonderful environments. I urge people to support this week and independent venues across the country.’

For more information about Independent Venue Week 2021 and to book tickets visit their website here

Find more ways to support local and independent London venues right now. 

Check out this new – yes new! – London venue that is opening in 2021. 

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