4th February 2019…
The past week has seen gigs arranged in over 200 independent venues right across the UK from Inverness to the Isle of Wight. It’s been a chance to catch new and established artists in some unlikely places and the news that Tim Burgess was coming to town, to play at a local arts centre in a converted chapel, definitely took a few residents by surprise in the seaside town of Worthing.
Running his own independent label, O Genesis Recordings, Tim has long been a vocal supporter of smaller venues and emerging artists, curating new music on Tim Peaks stages at festivals nationally. On this occasion he brought with him the fantastically energetic Average Sex (who later became his backing band as The Anytime Minutes) and The Silver Field, whose enchanting debut album Rooms has just been released on O Genesis. In an intimate setting with no gap between the stage and the crowd, Tim showcased an eclectic mix of his solo work – and a cover of Culture Club’s Time (Clock of the Heart) – and was his usual charming self, chatting to audience members between songs. The surroundings at St Paul’s make an impressive backdrop with many of the church’s original features still in place. Now run as a cafe and multi arts centre it has become a vibrant hub of the local community but needs ongoing support to maintain its offer as so many local venues do. IVW provides just one such opportunity. This is how it works…
‘Independent Venue Week is a 7 day celebration of small music venues around the country and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out. These venues give artists their first experience of playing live in front of an audience and for fans, somewhere to get up close to artists that one day, may well be playing stadiums and festival main stages. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England in the UK and also the wider music industry and brands globally, Independent Venue Week brings together these venues along with breaking and established artists, promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers to create a nationwide series of gigs. These venues are the backbone of the live music scene in their country and Independent Venue Week wants to recognise all that they have done to create some of the most memorable nights of the past so they can continue to do the same in the future.’
Simple really, it’s free for venues to take part, they get to keep 100% of ticket sales, can put on one or more shows in the week and get support from regional IVW reps and volunteers to promote and run their events.
The last year has proved that grassroots venues are still at huge risk of closure with Bristol’s Thekla under threat and Brighton neighbours Sticky Mike’s and The Globe both clearing their stages for the final time – just a few casualties amongst a host of others struggling to survive. Independent Venue Week offers a helping hand to all those who remain open with the hope that the ethos behind it will last all year.
For a packed crowd in Worthing, Friday night was a great reason to brave the freezing weather and get involved in a brilliant, unexpected line up of live music. Tim, come back soon and bring your friends, we’d love to see you all again.
You can find out more about Independent Venue Week, what went on and the application process on their website (UK and US each have their own week of celebrations)
Words and photos by Siobhan