Why No Independent Venue Week in Wakefield?

Only recently was I commenting on the state of live music in Wakefield, highlighting a seeming lack of almost everything that we need to be a place it’s worth living in, visiting or being creative in.

The part that got the largest response was the opening discussion on Venues. And fittingly, this week was Independent Venue Week, a national campaign to promote the importance of Independent Venues via a week long series of gigs. 2017 was the fourth year it has taken place and anyone can get involved for free and with minimal effort. Any venue that supports original live music and can put a line-up together can be involved.

Steve Lamacq once again gave very vocal support to the campaign, including this article on the BBC website. He is saying what many of us are thinking, but the question is, why did no venues from Wakefield get involved?

What the articles last week showed (I hope) was that the ‘music scene’ lives within a complicated ecosystem and it’s not always easy to anticipate the outcome of seemingly small events like a band splitting or one venue closing may have.

Yet some of the solutions are simple. Independent Venue Week is one of them. Simple. Easy. Free. Worthwhile.

To be part of the national week of events, you just have to host a gig that promotes original music. IVW will help with promotion, get you on their website, they may even send you some t-shirts. But beyond that, it’s also a real opportunity to connect with your community and the wider musical community across the country. Why not use IVW as an excuse for promoters to get together and brainstorm some ideas?

Last year, I put on a show for Independent venue week. It was only going to be small scale as there was no budget to work with, but I found 4 bands (including my own) who were all releasing records in January. We made the launch of each record the night of the gig, in the hope we’d all bring slightly different audiences and maybe show off our music to new people. I also arranged to have it filmed and interviewed each band so there was a document of what had happened which could be used by the bands and the venue to promote future events. I also arranged to have the gig recorded, so the bands could use the live tracks as either a release, bonus material, whatever they wanted. I appeared on BBC Introducing with promoters from York and Huddersfield to promote all our events and talk about the difficulties we all faced. I tried to create something that could be built on. I personally sold around £100 of merchandise, by far the most I’ve ever taken!

This week Steve Lamacq broadcast from different venues across the country, highlighting the issues and celebrating the successes. But this year Wakefield wasn’t mentioned, because we weren’t involved.

I find it so odd that venues just wouldn’t bother. It’s one of two things; they either don’t know about it or don’t care. If it is the first, then it relates directly to the point I was making previously, about venues stepping outside of their bubbles (or comfort zones, if you prefer) and connecting with the wider world. IVW is relatively new, but if you listen to 6Music or follow any major music blog on social media you should know about it. Basically, if you are involved in the music industry, you should know about it. If it is the latter, then I don’t know why music fans would care about a venue that doesn’t care for the idea of Independent Venues.

You can sign up right here. You need to be signed up by November prior to the January it takes place, but why not do it now, or at least get on their mailing list? Come on Wakefield, you need to up your game.


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