Independent Venue Week Announce Celebrated Mercury Prize Nominee Novelist As Year 6 Ambassador

Monday 28th January – Sunday 3rd February 19

The UK’s leading celebration of independent music venues announces plans for its sixth year and welcomes Mercury-nominated Novelist to the Independent Venue Week (IVW) family as Ambassador.

The week-long event is running, once again, at the end of January giving gig goers the perfect reason to get out and see newly-tipped artists, helping to shake off the January blues and support their local venues. As the project continues to grow, there are plans for much more activity with venues and partners across the whole year which will be announced after the week.

There has been little presence of grime, hip hop and rap across IVW venues in the past with these artists generally coming up through house parties or playing club nights with 5 or 6 artists, sometimes as a collective rather than the traditional 3 band line up in a live music venue.

Although Novelist has played very few of the IVW official venues to date, he will be doing a tour across the week which will be announced soon.

“I thoroughly enjoy having a close connection to my fans and the opportunity to entertain and interact at close quarters gives me the best buzz” he said. “They almost become a part of the performance and I get to rave with them. It’s a blessing.”

“What’s so exciting about having an artist like Novelist as ambassador is that we can bring together a musician with venues and gig goers that might not have crossed paths before, all around the country” said Chloe “Colin” Ward, Director of IVW UK. “Bringing something new to IVW is so important to us every year and Nov is a huge supporter of young people. We are looking at routing a tour at venues which have a strong, local youth community partnership.”

Following on from last years appointment of a non-artist ambassador, actor, music fan and disability campaigner, Samantha Renke is also appointed as ambassador. “Concerts were my thing! It mirrored my life, how I matured as a young girl into a woman. They reflected my personality and my experimentation – I found out who I was or who I wanted to be through music. Being at one of JP Coopers first gigs or cheering on your friend who’s a supporting act. Each memory ingrained.”

Renke went on, “I relished in being part of an environment where who you were didn’t matter, in my case my disability didn’t matter it was the love of music that brought us all together. You’d sing along with the stranger next to you in matching band t-shirts and for those two hours you could let any stress evaporate. You could just be you.”

Following on from the success of its 5th birthday in Jan 18, IVW has already got 188 venues signed up and the Ward says they are on target to have 200 venues taking part for the week itself.

Running from Monday 28th January to Sunday 3rd February 19, IVW continues to increase its reach across the country with the number of venues taking part, audiences it is engaging with, locations venues are signing up in and genres of music covered.

  • 45 Of venues that have signed up are taking part for the first time
  • 92 Different villages, towns and cities taking part all across the UK of which 24 are new locations for IVW
  • 55% Of venues are outside major city centres

This follows on from the push by organisers to be as inclusive as possible and demonstrating that smaller towns and villages have an equally important role to play in nurturing new talent and providing somewhere for the local community to enjoy new music, especially for those who haven’t the means to travel to neighbouring larger towns and cities.

Whilst 85% of participating venues are outside London, there are two venues taking part this year that are less than a year old – EartH which opened 6 months ago and Leytonstone Ballroom which will be just 27 days old when IVW kicks off.

With so many more venues taking part all across the country, a new initiative that IVW is also announcing this year is “Where Does Music Take You?”. As well as the emotional journey music can take you on, reminding you in an instant about a place or time, IVW Founder, Sybil Bell, has said she’d like to see more gig goers touring this year.

“It’s always bands that tour around the country, but we feel there’s a great opportunity for gig goers to start touring as well, exploring part of the country they’ve never been to. You see all of these venue names on tour posters but so many people have never visited them, usually staying local.” she said.

““Where Does Music Take You?” is our campaign to encourage people to travel further afield either for a night or over a weekend during IVW, with mates, and see for themselves some of these places in person.” Whilst the gig(s) may be the reason to visit somewhere new, it is hoped people will start exploring parts of the country they’ve never been to.

Partners on board this year are, once again, led by Arts Council England alongside Founding IVW Partners PRS for Music who return for a sixth consecutive year.

Claire Mera-Nelson, Director of Music at Arts Council England, said: “Arts Council England is delighted to continue its support for Independent Venue Week with a National Lottery Project Grant.”

“Building on the success of last year’s 5th anniversary, we are proud that the team at CAN YOU CIC IT? have nearly 190 independent venues already signed up, with around 200 expected to participate during the week itself. The breadth of musical genres being celebrated in events including specially curated tours, commissions and collaborations highlights the remarkable diversity and energy of this passionate sector.”

“I’m sure you will join me in looking forward to an exciting week celebrating the resilience, commitment and creativity of venues who offer such vital opportunities to communities and talent across England.”

Speaking on behalf of PRS for Music, Paul Clements, Executive Director of Membership, International and Licensing, said “Grassroots venues are integral to the UK live music scene and are an essential platform for many of our members to hone their craft and reach audiences across the country, as well as earn an important income stream. PRS for Music is proud to support Independent Venue Week’s work to champion and celebrate these vital spaces for emerging talent.”

They are joined by Marshall Amplification who are the official beer sponsors following the launch of three new beers under the Marshall name, Fred Perry who return for a third consecutive year as well as PPL and Help Musicians UK.

BBC Music are also back on board as the official broadcast partner.

Rhonagh O’Donnell, Commissioning Executive for BBC Music, said: “We’re proud to be back for a second year as Independent Venue Week’s official broadcast partner. Last year, we had a fantastic week visiting some vibrant venues, meeting people who keep live music thriving across the UK. IVW is a wonderful way to celebrate the work of venues all around the UK, and the positive impact gigs have on people’s lives.”

As the celebration continues to grow, Ward and Bell are growing their UK-wide network of 7 Regional Reps supported by Arts Council funding and 2 National Reps for Wales and Scotland. The reps, who work collaboratively with the central IVW team, help ensure there is increased local, on-the-ground knowledge of venues, artists and promoters that can join the IVW family and continue to make IVW stronger, richer and more diverse every year for gig goers.

The Reps will also be overseeing a growing number of Venue Volunteers (74 in 2018) for their respective areas who work within the venues to speak to gig goers for additional research as well as ensuring venues have everything they need for the week.

These volunteer roles are often the first opportunity some people have of getting hands-on experience in the industry. The role allows them to meet new people that they can learn from and build ongoing relationships as they look to develop a career in live music. They also get to see some great artists in some amazing venues, meaning hopefully they can say in a year or two, “I was there!”

Artists so far confirmed as playing or going on tour (T) across the week:

Beans on Toast (T)
Billy Bragg
Black Midi
Bloody Knees
Cancer Bats (T)
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly (T)
Heavy Lungs (T)
Her’s (T)
Liela Moss (The Duke Spirit) (T)
Musical Youth
Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs,
Pip Blom
Public Service Broadcasting
Swim Deep
This is the Kit (T) – three underplay shows in the lead up to their Roundhouse show
Thurston Moore

Genres: Indie, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Folk, Rap, Hip Hop, Grime, Electronic, Neo-Classical and artists DJ sets.

Filming for the documentary, which started during the last IVW, will also continue this year in readiness for a late spring/early summer release. Co-producing it with Blue Hippo, the makers of Last Shop Standing, IVW and the film crew will be out and about capturing the essence and romance of gigs at these vibrant live music venues and the communities they are at the heart of.

The new IVW shop is also launched this week with a range of merch illustrated by award-winning artist Robbie Porter. The shop also carries the Independent Venue Week Live Album that was release for Record Store Day in April in 2018 as a limited-edition double heavy-weight vinyl.

Details of all participating venues and shows on sale now can be found at the main website More dates and ticket links will go live on the site as more shows are confirmed.  More gigs, artists and partners will be announced over the coming days and weeks through IVW social media channels.

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