For the first time in its eight-year history, Independent Venue Week will this year be represented by four ambassadors - one for each of the Home Nations - who will lead the way in championing independent venues, and their communities, across their respective countries in the build-up to IVW 2021. Gruff Rhys is the second ambassador to be announced following Arlo Parks and will represent his home country, Wales. IVW takes place from Monday 25 January to Sunday 31 January 2021. For more information, visit Independentvenueweek.com.
Having shot to fame as the lead singer and songwriter in Cardiff rock band Super Furry Animals, Gruff Rhys has been a stalwart in the Welsh music scene for nearly 25 years. A vastly talented polymath (musician, filmmaker and author), Rhys will be representing IVW in Wales for the first time this year.
Gruff Rhys comments:
“As a touring musician – my work is completely connected to having independent venues exist. It's about people, not the actual buildings. It's about the energy and enthusiasm that music fans have created in towns and cities and villages and so, we need to give a voice for those people to be heard.
Touring artists are completely dependent on the enthusiasm of independent promoters and venues. The reality of music is that for most people it's a lifelong passion, and musicians can rarely make a full living out of it, so music exists thanks to people's passion to want to hear music, share music and give a stage to exciting new music. Independent venues keep that spirit going and they make it possible for musicians to play - most people involved are doing it for the love of it. Those independent venues create the conditions that make it possible for everything else to happen within music.”
Historically, IVW sees hundreds of venues across the UK take part in Independent Venue Week, inviting a huge host of exciting artists to play exclusive shows up and down the country in celebration of independent venues and their communities. The initiative provides a huge spotlight on the grassroots ecosystem within the live music sector - an ecosystem which includes not only the venues and the people that own, run and work in them, but also promoters, artists, managers, crew as well as labels, kit, merch, ticketing and tour transport companies and the all-important music fans and gig-goers.
As we step into 2021, it is clear we are a long way from any kind of opportunity to safely enjoy live music in grassroots music venues and the health and well-being of our whole community is our priority. IVW is responding by adapting the way shows are available across the week with a range of digital events. From “In Conversations” with artists, labels, promoters, gig-goers and other industry organisations to album listening parties, pre-recorded live streams, comedy and quizzes.
There will be fewer venues and artists taking part than in previous years, but there are still stories to be told and experiences to be shared and they are as important now as they’ve ever been - many of these will be with people who are usually behind the scenes, giving a new opportunity to find out more about how the industry works. IVW is committed to putting venues and their communities at the heart of what they do by continuing to shine a spotlight on them, all around the UK, as it has done for the last eight years.
So far this year, 79 venues from 53 different villages, towns and cities have signed up to take part, 82% of which are outside of London.
Independent Venue Week, is gratefully funded by a longstanding partnership with Arts Council England along with support from DCMS as part of their £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund program, Creative Scotland, See Tickets, Yamaha, Fred Perry and PPL. The F List and loadin.com are also partners in kind this year. It is the first time See Tickets has been the official ticketing partner but they have long championed independent venues across the UK.
Further representatives from Northern Ireland and Scotland to be announced later this week.
Independent Venue Week Live 2020, the third live vinyl-only record, was released on 11th December 2020. Whilst Independent Venue Week will be very different this year, the activity that is able to take place for the 2021 itinerary will be announced in the coming days and weeks.