Community interest company Can You CIC It?, which runs Independent Venue Week (IVW), has launched a new nationwide initiative that will work with grassroots music venues to run daytime education and community programs.

Organisers said the Arts Council England-backed campaign will run online and at live venues offering activities for groups including young people, LGBTQ+, and deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people. The activity will support mental health and wellbeing.

The initiative was launched on 2 December with a live-streamed event at The Smokehouse in Ipswich, that involved IVW and Yes We Can founder Sybil Bell (pictured left), the Smokehouse and Outloud Music founder Joe Bailey and Arts Council England’s Adrian Cooke (pictured right), along with Joe Hastings of music industry mental health charity Help Musicians and Jane Dyball from accessibility charity Attitude is Everything.

Bell said, “Through initiatives like Independent Venue Week, the importance of small independent venues to the UK’s music scene has become widely recognised. However, we’ve always believed that these spaces play an even more significant role in the social fabric of the UK. They’re not only a focal point for music and the arts, they’re outlets for entire communities up and down the country.

‘Our goal is to encourage even more venues to open their doors and embrace a range of inclusive, community-based activities, giving people the chance to come together, in person, and develop relationships and skills to enrich their lives, all with music at its heart.”

Arts Council England director Claire Mera-Nelson said, “As we move beyond lockdown and into a recovery phase, the importance of independent, grassroots music venues to the local and artistic communities they serve is greater than ever. Independent Venue Week has been a vital ingredient in the success of our grassroots live music sector, showcasing our brilliant independent venues and artists across the country each year; but now their work will become even more important as they move to deliver year-round development, education and community programmes on a national basis through the Yes We Can initiative.”

The Yes We Can launch partners are Dr Jen Wills Lamacq, Attitude is Everything, Drake Music, Stay Up Late, Help Musicians UK and Come Play With Me. Alongside these partners are music industry trade bodies including, Featured Artists Coalition, Ivors Academy, Musicians Union, Music Managers Forum, Association of Independent Promoters, Music Publishers Association, Music Producers Guild and the Association of Independent Music.