Photography by Jamie MacMillan ©


WHAT A WEEK – #IVW20 was our biggest ever thanks to everyone who took part.

Whether you bought tickets to a gig, ran a night, played on stage, crewed for a band or venue, were one of our important partners, broadcast news and interviews of the hundreds of gigs or tens of thousands of people who filled rooms around the country or opened your doors as a venue, YOU made it happen.

We thank you all.

So much hard work from so many people to make so many great nights out – and hopefully some incredible memories.

We’re still buzzing. Exhilarated but exhausted. We’ll be posting pictures from across the week on our socials over the coming weeks so we can all remind ourselves just how epic a week it’s been.

And what a week for so much great news supporting so many well-loved venues around the country. From rates reductions to further support from Arts Council England and Wales – further details below.

With 230 venues taking part this year, it was heart-warming to have so many join that we’ve never worked with before.

An enormous thank you to our wonderful Ambassador this year, the incredible Anna Calvi who blew the roof off of the Windmill in Brixton twice – no less- on Friday and has spoken so beautifully about why spaces like this, and grassroots venues as a whole, are so important to the community as well as the development of artists.

Photography by Victoria Wai ©

Another big thank you goes to BBC SoundsSteve Lamacq and his team at BBC 6 Music who went on the Homecoming Tour across the country in their tour bus which tripled up as a studio/office/accommodation, visiting the cities and hometowns that mean so much to the incredible artists we had playing.

On Monday they visited The Cluny in Newcastle, to see the immense Nadine Shah, in Tuesday the team drove to The Leadmill in Sheffield for the wonderful Self Esteem. They were on to Cardiff at Clwb Ifor Bach on the Wednesday for Gruff Rhys, Thursday they were at the Exeter Cavern for Frank Turner and they finished off their week in Brixton for Anna Calvi.

Steve spoke to venues owners and operators, artists, promoters and fans about the music scene in their area – you can listen back to it all here.

Each year gig-goers, agents, promoters and venue crew come together to celebrate the incredible work these places do, day in, day out. However, this week and this year was particularly special. We really feel that there is a shift happening, slowly governments and councils are understanding the important work venues do, the communities they build and how vital they are as spaces for people to get together in.

The effect of this realisation has meant the renewal of the £1.5 million fund from Arts Council England for grassroots venues and promoters to access, providing them with a chance to improve accessibility in the space, introduce younger audiences to the venue, or upgrade their equipment. The lovely lot at Arts Council England are eager to help those who want to apply so if you’re a venue or promoter, get in touch with them and access this valuable resource.

Joe Bailey, The Smokehouse, Ipswich talking to the BBC about the SGLM ACE fund

Creative Wales have launched a very similar fund for those venues across the border. Not only are they keen to help people apply to the fund, but they have streamlined and shortened the application process, and want to hear back on how they can improve their system.

Similarly, there has been huge, positive news on business rates for independent venues. Those with a rateable value of £51,000 of less will be able to apply for a 50% decrease in rates saving them thousands each year. On another positive note, Westminster Council have developed this further and have become the first council in the UK to award a venue, the 100 Club, 100% Localism Relief and granted protected status.

Photography Darren Russell ©  – Jeff Horton, Owner of the 100 Club, speaking at the IVW Year 5 launch event Nov 17

This is incredible news and we all hope this sets in motion more venues around the country to be recognised in this way so they can continue the vital and brilliant work of supporting culture in their communities.. What a way to start the new year and celebrate #IVW20 and show appreciation of all of the incredible work these venues do.

Each year we are able to run Independent Venue Week because of the support we receive from our partners.

The most enormous thanks go to Arts Council England which continues to join us in celebrating the importance of independent venues, and the people that own and run them. They understand the idea that these places are not just for artists to play a show, but also crew to learn their craft as well as spaces used to develop work and foster a sense of community in the local area for people of all ages and backgrounds.

This celebration is shared by the lovely people at Arts Council Wales and Creative Scotland, who support the work we do in the nations. Their grant funding this year has enabled us to have national ambassadors, Huw Stephens in Wales and Vic Galloway in Scotland – a gigantic thank you to them too. Their local knowledge was invaluable to us and allowed us to introduce more activity in the area. An additional thank you to Huw for curating our first ever Welsh Language showcases at The Mash House, Edinburgh and The Jacaranda Club, Liverpool with Yur Ods headlining and Papur Wal as support. Another thank you, Vic, for DJing at Beat Generator Live! on the Saturday of IVW – killing it as always.

The support also comes from industry partners PRS for Music, PPL, Yamaha, HARMAN, Musicians Union and Hardwick & Morris. Some of that activity is continuing beyond just the week so keep an eye out for information on our socials and at your local venue.

The Fred Perry family invited a few lucky customers down to our shows across the UK. They are also keen to hear from anyone who had a great gig during IVW to submit a 250 word review along with photos to

The week was powered with help by the lovely folk at Yorkshire Tea. We started off each day with a proper brew before heading all across the UK to meet as many of the venues we work with as possible. Lots of Yorkshire Tea was delivered to all of our venues for the week and beyond along with the 2nd ever limited edition IVW tea towel.

We have also continued our work with the fabulous people at Stay Up Late, who work to support people who require additional help heading out to gigs.

If you’ve been following our social media channels, you’ll know that one of our Year 5 Ambassadors, the Bristol legend Big Jeff has been on his first IVW tour too #BigJeffIVWTour. Starting the weekend before, Jeff has travelled the country meeting venue owners and operators in Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Hebden Bridge, Nottingham, London, Leicester and Guildford. Jeff will be posting his very first Big Jeff’s Blog on the IVW site later this month so sign up to our mailing list to be sure to hear first about when it’s published.

Photography by Victoria Wai ©

Before then, however, Jeff launched a crowd funding campaign to help him get to SXSW so he could be part of our panel, Diversity In Live Music On & Off The Stage. Within a few days, he reached his target so he’s beyond chuffed to be heading off to do his 2nd #BigJeffIVWTour all around Austin and share his experiences on his blog about that when he’s back.

Photography by Jamie MacMillan © 

Our team of IVW National and Regional reps have worked unbelievably hard to help us work with different areas of the UK. They are on the ground when the four of us can’t be and they help us work with people in different villages, towns and cities that have their own scene we might not know about. They have allowed us to grow and ensure we continue to be a national program with a very local feel. A massive thank you goes to: Aaron Douglas, Adrian Cooke, Chris Sherrington,  Emily Marlow, Luke Hinton, Martin Moseley, Minty, Tam Coyle, Tor Byrnes, Whiskas – you’ve all been an absolute pleasure to work with.

Along a similar line, our network of IVW Venue Reps allow us to collect data that help us continue report back to Arts Council England and develop and improve what we do – a huge thank you for coming on board.

It really was a positive, magical and very special week, that brought people together. It’s an incredible community of people all across the country that work hard to do what they do. Getting to know 230 of them has been an unforgettable experience, as always,  and we’re all so looking forward to working with them throughout the year as well as for #IVW21.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make Independent Venue Week happen, and to everyone who went out in support.

The week may be over but all of these venues are back doing what they do every week of the year. So, get yourself out and discover some new music and support a local business.

See you down the front at more gigs very soon.

Sybil, Colin, Charlie, Ruby




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