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Nadine Shah, ambassador of IVW 2018

Independent Venue Week (IVW) is back for 2018. This year’s outing (29 January to 4 February) marks its fifth birthday and the organiser has announced that more venues and more ambassadors have joined.

IVW started with just 17 venues in 2014, and now there are 160 venues already signed-up to stage shows between Monday 29 January and Sunday 4 February 2018.

As part of the week-long showcase of the UK’s independent venues, the organiser has also invited five ambassadors – rather than the usual one – to champion the cause. South Tyneside singer-songwriter Nadine Shah, who released her third full-length record, Holiday Destination, to critical acclaim earlier in 2017, and Portishead multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Adrian Utley have been announced with the remaining three ambassadors set to be named shortly.

Commenting on the appointment, Shah said: “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.”

Shah continued: “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 yourself 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’.”

Despite playing some of the world’s biggest venues and festivals with Portishead, Utley told IVW that independent venues remain close to his heart.

“I love smaller venues. They are where I started and vital for learning how to do it all really,” he said. “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. 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.”

Both Nadine Shah and Adrian Utley will be curating shows during IVW 18, which will be announced in due course.

Live event industry

IVW said that a real mix of venues have signed on to host shows during the week, ranging from halls in big cities to those in small towns and village that provide the heartbeat for their local scenes. “A great example of the blend of venues involved can be seen just within Halifax, which is not only the home of the smallest to take part, Grayston Unity, but also our youngest, namely the recently opened The Lantern.”

Some stern supporters of IVW 2018 are BBC Music 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,” said Rachel Davies, commissioning executive for BBC Music.

IVW said that part of the BBC’s coverage will include BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, on the road for a third consecutive year, to broadcast his daily show live from a host of independent venues around the UK.

The event will also work with over 65 promoters from around the country to stage IVW 18, while Marshall Records – the record label of the legendary British amplifier company – has also teamed up with IVW. As part of the agreement, the company will be touring some of its new artists during the week.

IVW is also 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,” said Ben Lane, National Music Lead Arts Council England.

Lane added: “With over 160 venues taking part this year the fifth 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.”

Key partners

Returning for a fifth consecutive year are founding industry partners PRS For Music, and it will once again be hosting panels for the artist community with the Musicians Union.

Leading independent music charity Help Musicians UK has renewed its partnering with IVW and is set to curate a number of shows around the country.

Attitude Is Everything also returns in 2018 and will be promoting its Grassroots Charter and DIY Access Guide during IVW, Stay Up Late are back to showcase their Gig Buddy scheme.

The Joe Strummer Foundation are also supporting the week will be presenting Strummerville-On-Sea, a special show to be held at local venue The Brass Monkey in the seaside town of Hastings, East Sussex. Arrows Of Love, Bloody Knees, Yowl, Lice and Heavy Lungs are some of the acts in the bill.

The Joe Strummer Foundation said it will keep door prices to a minimum and pay all acts as well as raising much-needed funds and awareness for the charity.

Vauxhall is back for their four year, continuing their commitment to the country’s live music community by offering their #VivaroOnTour van to musicians free of charge to enable them tour around the UK.

East London independent brewers Signature Brew are supporting IVW again too, as are Vevo and Fred Perry Subculture – with the latter travelling to gigs up and down the country to interview artists and fans exploring their playlists.

Commenting on the prospects of this year’s event, Chloe Ward, IVW UK director, said: “Having worked on the project for the last three years, I know all too well how much IVW has grown 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.

“We’re really proud to be shining a light on the UK’s independent’s venues who are the lifeblood of our rich and diverse music scene. It’s going to a be a great week,” she concluded.