Live Music

The Independent launches campaign to boost grassroots music venues

UK newspaper, The Independent, is launching a new initiative, Main Stage, which aims to raise the profile and appreciation of grassroots music venues around the UK.

The Independent said the year-long programme will highlight one grassroots venue from each of the 12 UK regions per month. Main Stage will be led by The Independent’s music editor, Roisin O’Connor.

Each month, music editor O’Connor will be speaking to the people behind the chosen establishment, telling its story, highlighting its struggles and successes, and showing why music spaces are so crucial not just culturally and economically, but to communities up and down the UK.

Every Main Stage venue will also be featured in The Independent’s weekly Now Hear This newsletter and social media, and be given £5,000 worth of ad inventory within The Independent.

The first venue to feature in Main Stage is The Music Workshop, a recently opened independent venue in Folkestone, Kent.

Support for grassroots music venues

Running in association with the Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity organisation founded in 2014 to help protect independent music venues, the scheme comes after warnings that the sector is in the middle of a “full-blown crisis”.

O’Connor said: “I’m so excited to announce the launch of Main Stage, The Independent’s new initiative that aims to create additional, vital support for the UK’s grassroots music venues. Having reported extensively on the dire situation faced by so many brilliant local venues around Britain, I’m thrilled that we’re now able to offer our own platform especially for those venues to promote the amazing work they’re doing.

“Grassroots music venues provide an essential breeding ground for virtually every single one of our up-and-coming bands and solo artists, allowing them to hone their talents and grow their fanbases in order to move up towards those bigger stages and headline festival slots. As well as simply highlighting the brilliant work of the people behind these venues, which are so important to their local communities, I hope this initiative might also inspire others to take action – in order to safeguard the future of live music in the UK.”

MVT welcomes campaign

The newspaper said Main Stage is the latest in a series of activities designed to utilise its platform to support and celebrate talent, spaces and events throughout the arts ecosystem.

MVT’s chief executive, Mark Davyd, said: “It’s really exciting to see a project which focuses on the impact GMVs have in their local communities and which can throw a spotlight on the incredible work being done in the grassroots sector. There’s obviously a lot of negativity around the challenges these venues face, but we need to remember that every day in the UK incredible music is being created and enjoyed in hundreds of spaces across the country.”

MVT this week hit back after Co-op Live’s chief challenged calls for a grassroots music levy and said many small venues are “poorly run”. Gary Roden, Co-op Live’s executive director and general manager, described the £1 levy idea as “too simplistic”. MVT is campaigning for £1 to be added to ticket prices at all large venues in the UK.