Independent Venue Week is back and celebrating five years

Founding industry partner PRS for Music will once again be hosting panels

Independent Venue Week logo

Independent Venue Week (IVW) returns this year bigger than ever as it celebrates its 5th birthday. 

Founded in 2014 as a way to shine the spotlight on the heroes that own and run small venues all across the country, Independent Venue Week has grown massively in five years. Starting out with just 17 venues in 2014, it has grown this year with 160 venues already signed up.

Once again the project will run at the end of January from Monday 29th – Sunday 4th February 18. 

Not only are many venues re-opening their doors after New Year, but exciting new artists are being tipped by key tastemakers and a large swathe of UK gets off their sofas after a dry January, eager to shake off the cobwebs and get gigging again.

To mark the milestone, IVW organisers have invited five ambassadors to champion the cause this year.

First of the two to be announced at the launch is South Tyneside singer songwriter Nadine Shah who released her third full-length record, Holiday Destination, to critical acclaim this year.


Don't get me wrong I'm all for a fancy sit down gig in some elaborate venue but I'll take a sweat fest in some small dive any day of the week. Being so close to a stage and properly submerging yourself in a show is hard to top. As a musician it gives me a proper thrill to have the audience so close, they don't miss a trick so I have to pull my finger out and really up my game. Do yourself a favour and get yaself down to an independent venue to watch artists you've never heard of before, you can be that smug arsehole who says "I saw them first".

Nadine Shah

Alongside Nadine is Portishead multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Adrian Utley.


I love smaller venues. To see/hear and to play music...they are where I started and vital for learning how to do it all really. Sweaty and usually a good sound, it can be really nerve wracking being so close to other humans but also it feels like a shared experience. Massive venues can be a bit impersonal and removed from the audience you are wanting to connect to…there is often a big space between the stage and the audience (sometimes bigger than a small venue in itself) that can have bored security and technical people in which takes a while to get used to. It’s sad if you don’t get to experience this and start your career in arenas which I’m sure some people do. Some music only suits small spaces…it’s so cool to see music that isn’t amplified at all and you can sit close and hear.

Adrian Utley

Both Nadine and Adrian will be curating shows, details of which will follow soon and Nadine will also be headlining a show at Hebden Bridge on Saturday 3rd February.

The continued growth of the project comes not just from more venues across towns and cities signing up but also those from secondary and tertiary locations. 

These 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.

A great example of this is Halifax, home of the smallest (Grayston Unity) and youngest (The Lantern) venues taking part in IVW this year.

Key Independent Venue Week numbers for this year include;

  • 160 Venues Taking Part (as of 23rd November)
  • 65 Venues Taking Part For The First Time
  • 22 Smallest Cap. Venue – Grayston Unity (ish)
  • 3100 Biggest Cap. Venue – The Troxy
  • 147 Years - Oldest Venue - Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall
  • 10 Days – Youngest Venue - The Lantern 
  • 46 Number Of Locations Where There Is Only One Venue
  • 14 Number Of New Locations That We Are Present In This Year

This year, broadcast support for the project is coming from BBC Music who are on board as an official partner.


Independent Venues Week shines a light on the UK’s grassroots venues and the work they do to unite artists and music fans across the country. We are proud to be an official IVW partner this year.

Rachel Davies, Commissioning Executive for BBC Music

As part of the ongoing support, Steve Lamacq will be travelling around the country for the 3rd consecutive year, speaking to venues owners and managers, artists, promoters and gig goers about the local music scene where they live.

Although growing all the time, IVW is currently working with over 65 promoters in eleven regions and nations around the country including Surprise You’re Dead, SXSW, Radio X with Kilamanjaro, YALA Records, Bugged Out, Scruff Of The Neck, Blackstaff Music Belfast, Dub Organiser, Juicebox Live, Chiverin and World Unlimited, covering indie, rock, metal, folk, urban and world music. Also programming a night is Bristol gig regular, Big Jeff Johns.

This year also sees the addition of Marshall Records, the label of the Independent British amp company, who will be touring some of their exciting new artists.

The move towards working with more regional and national partners means the project is teaming up with curation partners like Elijah from Brighton. Elijah works in a creative cultural agency, Lighthouse, that works with venues and artists producing schemes and commissions, helping young artists develop their craft.

IVW is backed, once again, by Arts Council England alongside Creative Scotland and Arts Council Wales.


For the fourth year running, Arts Council England is really proud to support Independent Venue Week with a National Lottery Good Causes, Grants for the Arts award. With over 160 venues taking part this year the 5th Anniversary event really resonates with our mission of Great art for Everyone with events of almost every genre taking part. This year marks a step change in the ambition of the project with specially curated tours, commissions and collaborations highlighting the remarkable diversity of this passionate sector. We look forward to a week celebrating the exceptional hard work these vital spaces hold for both communities and talent across the country.

Ben Lane, National Music Lead Arts Council England

One such project the Arts Council money is being used for is Bournemouth promoters We Broke Free who are touring Bournemouth artists around the country.

Returning for a fifth consecutive year are founding industry partners PRS for Music, who will once again be hosting panels for the artist community as well as Musicians Union.

Leading independent music charity Help Musicians UK is proud to partner once again with Independent Venue Week, and will curate a number of shows around the country.

In addition, the charity is gearing up for the December launch of its ground breaking 24/7 mental health support service for the entire music industry. Music Minds Matter will offer qualified and professional emotional support, advice and signposting to additional services as well as opportunities for grant funding.

Attitude is Everything is also returning to promote their Grassroots Charter and DIY Access Guide as are Stay Up Late with their gig buddy scheme and The Joe Strummer Foundation.

Vauxhall are also back for a 4th year continuing their commitment to the country’s live music community offering their #VivaroOnTour to musicians free of charge to help them tour around the UK.

East London independent brewers Signature Brew are also returning following their partnership last year. 

Vevo is supporting Independent Venue Week once again having just wrapped their ‘Artist to Watch’ campaign. Claudia de Wolff, VP CC& P UK said: “Making sure we have a thriving venue scene is so important to nurturing the next wave of artists which is central to our platform.”

Fred Perry Subculture will be travelling to gigs up and down the country to interview artists and fans exploring their playlists. 

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


It’s been a wild year to take over the running of Independent Venue Week here in the UK from Founder Sybil Bell. Having worked on the project for the last three years, I know all too well how much it’s grown year or year and the work involved in making it happen. But the scale of activity this year is something else – it’s been a huge effort – made possible by great teamwork and a LOT of laughter. All I can say is “Venues are well good”.

Independent Venue Week UK Director, Chloe “Colin” Ward
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