Arlo Parks has been announced as ambassador for Independent Venue Week, which is set to return for its eighth consecutive year from January 25-31, 2021.
The initiative spotlights the grassroots sector, with hundreds of venues across the UK inviting a host of artists to play exclusive shows up and down the country in celebration of independent venues and their communities.
The official #IVW21 launch took place in a socially-distanced event at London's Bush Hall hosted by Primal Scream's Simone Butler, who chatted with Parks, Tor Maries (aka Billy Nomates) and Betsy Harley, music and events manager of Bush Hall. Further interviews were held over Zoom.
“I feel blessed to have been chosen as Independent Venue Week Ambassador," said Parks. "Independent venues are the backbone of live music and I’m determined to help to support and protect these national treasures.”
Three additional ambassadors for the nations - Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland - will be announced in early January.
Independent Venue Week is funded by a longstanding partnership with Arts Council England along with support from DCMS as part of its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, See Tickets, Yamaha, Fred Perry, The F List, PPL, and loadin.com.
Rob Wilmshurst, global CEO of See Tickets said: "We're very proud to be supporting IVW 2021 in what has been a challenging time for live event venues. These spaces are at the heart of the live music scene and we feel strongly that their contribution should be both recognised and celebrated."
It is clear Independent Venue Week won't be the usual seven days of hundreds of shows with three-artist bills this year
Sybil Bell, Independent Venue Week
Sybil Bell, founder of Independent Venue Week, added: “We are fully aware that as we announce plans for Independent Venue Week 2021, there is still uncertainty about what will be possible across the week even with less than two months to go. And we are acutely aware that there are still some venues fighting for their survival. It’s hugely important to us that we are sensitive to everyone in our community and where they are at, as we announce our plans.
"We have spoken to lots of our venues since lockdown started in March as well as partners we work with who make shows happen, and very early on, so many people asked us to make sure Independent Venue Week went ahead and that it was needed now, more than ever."
Bell said a change in format for 2021 was inevitable given the Covid-19 restrictions.
"It’s clear Independent Venue Week won’t be the usual seven days of hundreds of shows with three artist bills this year but this presents us with opportunities to dig deeper and hear from a whole range of people and organisations about their role in grassroots live music, often from those who are behind the scenes," she said.
"We will start to get a clearer picture of specific activity as January comes around – it’s hard for lots of people to plan too far ahead in terms of what can be done live physically and what will need to be done digitally. But we are so pleased to have the venues signed up we do, and excited to see the shows that are already on sale.
"What is very clear is that everyone we’re speaking with, ourselves included, want to kick off 2021 with a sense of optimism and to look to the future in a positive way.”
Nathan Clark, owner of The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds and founder of Council Of Independent Live Music, said: "Covid has exposed many things, and in music, it became clearly apparent that independent voices were limited, or simply not part of live music conversation.
"Through discussions with many in the sector, there was a desire to have further discussions around live, but there needed to be a goal and a framework. What was clear was that we wanted to help our live sector understand where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we want to get to, and the period of opportunities, threats and challenges this brings up for live music.
"The Council of Independent Live Music is the starting point for that discussion and, in the longer term, it is about a desire to create a better, more transparent, more equitable and more plugged in live music community."
PHOTO: Alex Kurun