The Independent and Music Venue Trust (MVT) have partnered to launch new initiative Main Stage, with the aim of raising the profile and awareness of the plight of grassroots music venues around the UK.

During the year-long programme, The Independent will highlight one grassroots venue from a different UK region each month. MVT said the programme is kicking off with The Music Workshop, a recently opened independent venue in Folkestone, Kent.

Each month, The Independent’s music editor Roisin O’Connor will speak to a venue team and write a piece on it, and all venues selected for the Main Stage initiative will also be featured in the newspaper’s weekly Now Hear This newsletter and social media, and be given £5,000 worth of ad inventory.

According to the MVT, an average of two grassroots music venues closed permanently every week last year. It said that despite contributing more than £500m to the economy and employing close to 30,000 people, the grassroots scene remained “significantly underfunded compared to other areas of culture”.

MVT CEO Mark Davyd said, “There’s obviously a lot of negativity around the challenges these venues face, but we need to remember that every day in the UK incredible music is being created and enjoyed in hundreds of spaces across the country.”

The Independent business marketing and communications director Beth Gordon said, “Grassroots music sites are the foundation for so many headliners’ careers and play an invaluable role in breathing life and soul into communities.”