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Independent Venue Week sees the UK celebrate independent music and arts venues – and the people that own, run and work in them

29 January 2024, 09:00 | Written by The Line of Best Fit

This week, fans are being encouraged to take part in supporting the vital spaces for music in villages, towns and cities across the UK as Independent Venue Week (IVW) kicks off.

Now in its 11th year, IVW sees more than 200 independent venues from across 144 cities and 62 villages and towns between Edinburgh to Guernsey hosting hundreds of live gigs by everyone from globally-recognised artists to some of the more exciting rising talent around - from Hinds, Circa Waves and Fatoumata Diawara to Nell Mescal, MF Tomlinson and Personal Trainer.

Among the 480 shows, IVW ambassadors English Teacher, Brooke Combe (Scotland) and LEMFRECK (Wales) will be performing special gigs. On Wednesday

English Teacher (pictured above) play at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton while Brooke Combe will be at Mac Arts in Galashiels. LEMFRECK plays at The Gate in Cardiff on Saturday.

86 TV’s – the indie supergroup made up of former members of The Maccabees, Noisettes and Stereophonics – will play at Whistle Binkies in Edinburgh tomorrow with support from Grace and the Flat Boys. On Friday, spoken word and hip-hop artist Antony Szmierek joins with buzzed four piece Picture Parlour to play at The Rockin’ Chair in Wrexham, with Szmierek also contributing a poem which encapsulates the importance of independent venues to the UK’s music culture. “Without these little rooms there’d be no one to fill the ones that are bigger,” writes Szmierek in the poem, which premiered on Steve Lamacq’s Teatime Session on BBC Radio 6 Music and can be heard in its entirety below.

Since 2014, more than a million tickets have been sold to IVW shows and the event is a reminder of how important community is to the musical ecosystem - from the smallest villages to the biggest cities. Despite a difficult climate for live music over the last few years – and the recent closure of venues like Bath Moles – IVW is a chance to share in the community that the UK’s incredible venues offer to fans of all kinds of music - from jazz, funk and classical, to metal, folk and even spoken word performance.

Many of the venues taking part have fascinating backgrounds and histories – and have hosted some of the biggest names in the history of music. The 300-capacity Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees – where IVW ambassadors English Teacher will play this Wednesday – was built in 1766 as a stopping point on a circuit of northern theatres. Over its 30+ year reign as one of the north’s best small venues, its seen shows from the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.


IVW founder and CEO, Sybil Bell (pictured above) is encouraging fans to come out in force and buy a ticket for a show: “These are the spaces where magic happens,” explains Bell, previously an owner of Moles. “They are the bedrock of our culture. But if we don’t use them, then we’ll lose them.”

Among the other highlights this week are a series of shows as part of Beavertown Brewery’s partnership with IVW, including Humour, Hank and Chad at The George Tavern in London tonight, and an exclusive solo performance by Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite at McChuills in Glasgow on Saturday. Over in Liverpool – and also on Saturday – Pixey headlines at the Arts Bar Baltic with support from Zuzu and Eleanor Kelly.

The Soundcheck Sessions will offer younger (14+) audiences the chance to get their first taste of live music, with a series of free events run by the Independent Venue Community, IVW’s sister organisation. The sessions will see venues open their doors to young people during the day (and before being open to the public) to watch artists playing that night soundcheck and then take part in a Q&A with them as well as some of the crew and venue team. These free sessions also allow venues to build relationships with new audiences, and possibly the crews of the future.

To find the nearest show to you and join in the celebration, visit the IVW website for details and ticket information at

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