The organisers of Independent Venue Week (IVW) have launched Independent Venue Community (IVC); a nationwide initiative aimed at encouraging grassroots venues across the UK to open their doors to increased community programming.

With an emphasis on underserved communities and those living in areas of low arts engagement, the IVC programme will initially target engagement across six specific strands: early years; young people; the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent; mental health and wellbeing; LGBTQIA+; and older years.

IVC is being supported by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales, the Welsh Government, and Youth Music. Its founding ambassadors are rock music duo Nova Twins.

IVW and IVC founder Sybil Bell said the programme is Inspired by community organisations and programmes including The Warren Youth Project (pictured) in Hull and the Gig Buddies scheme for individuals with learning disabilities. It is also inspired by in-house projects such as Soundcheck Sessions where young people can access a venue before it opens ahead of a live show in order to learn industry skills.

IVC is being launched at an event tonight (19 July) at Lafayette London, featuring participants from around the UK and moderated by journalist and author Jude Rogers.

Bell said, “Independent venues are the absolute heart of the music business, from small villages, to towns and cities, all around the country. What’s less appreciated, however, is the role they can play as community spaces, where local people can express themselves, try new things or simply come together in person.

“Our goal with Independent Venue Community is to harness these individual pockets of brilliance, and to inspire more venues to engage with groups and individuals in their area. Ultimately, we want to build a national network of engaged local communities, and encourage more music venues to throw their doors open in the day.

“By doing this, I believe they can increase and diversify the people coming through their doors and unlock significant hidden value and talent. It’s a win-win situation.”