Independent Venues Week To Stage Digitally In The U.S.

Independent Venue Week
– Independent Venue Week

Independent Venue Week is pressing ahead in the U.S. Oct. 24-30 with a decentralized week of performances, a memorabilia auction and panel programming for independent venues and their workers. The full schedule is available on the IVW website.
More than 130 venues are participating in the week in some capacity. Similar to how the week normally highlights programming hosted and organized by independent venues, there will not be a single streaming platform or site displaying the performances, but IVW will connect fans to venues’ own programming through their respective platforms throughout the week. Some of the performances being highlighted include JC Brooks at City Winery in Chicago, Tim Gent at Exit/IN in Nashville, and Andrea Franz at The Paramount in Los Angeles.
Cecilie Nielsen, Director of Special Events at boutique music marketing firm Marauder (which has organizes IVW in the U.S.) told Pollstar there were many ideas kicked around for how to put on IVW after it was delayed from July, but ultimately it was decided to keep it decentralized. 
“Independent Venue Week is normally a celebration of independent venues throughout the country, and I tell people it’s normally just businesses as usual, they put on their shows and we will build a campaign around those performances to highlight them and include them,” Nielsen told Pollstar. “We discussed many ways of doing IVW this year. We decided we will run the program, talk about what the venues are doing, but we’re not centralizing each stream. We are asking people ‘What’s important for you? What would you like us to talk about or promote?’  We will build something around streaming links for venues, but some aren’t in a position to host shows, so some helped us push a fundraiser. Some donated funds or memorabilia for the fundraiser. I don’t think it’s more or less work than other years, but it’s taken some time to decide what is the right course of action.”
The memorabilia will include items from venues throughout the country being auctioned on eBay until Oct. 30. Proceeds from the auction will go towards NIVA Emergency Relief Fund. 
Panels are scheduled throughout the week including “Hosting Sponsored Shows Without Selling Out,” “Community Servants: How your Venue works with the Neighborhood,” “Diversifying Your Audience,” “Beyond the Stage: The Effect Venues have on the Economy,” “The Making of #SOSFEST: Bringing the Festival Experience Online,” “BBC Music Introducing Live Presents: Keeping Live Alive,” and “NIVA Presents: Life off the Road: 2020 from the Artists’ Perspective.” There is also a day of programming specifically for students and those getting started in the industry on Oct. 29. The panels will be held via Zoom meeting, and some will be closed to the public, but most will be open.
Nielsen, who has been working on IVW since its inception in the U.S. in 2018, has seen venues get turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said one of the main reasons the initial dates for IVW were pushed back from July was so that venue members could participate in lobbying efforts being organized by NIVA. Marauder co-founder Rev. Moose is currently serving as executive director of National Independent Venue Association.
“I think reality of the situation sunk in once SXSW got canceled. We had heard about this pandemic but that was a big punch in the gut, not just for IVW but for all these projects we were working on at Marauder. It was a Friday SXSW got canceled and we were on the phone Saturday morning because we knew what it would mean for the venues in Austin, we know how important SXSW is for them for the entire year. We started asking who we could talk to, if there was any way we could match artists with venues that needed more foot traffic. Obviously we didn’t understand the scope at the time, we just knew SXSW was canceled.” 
Some of the those early conversations through the Independent Venue Week network actually led to the formation of NIVA.
The need for federal aid has been a huge focus for venues throughout the past several months, and NIVA recently partnered with YouTube to put on SOS Fest, a three-day streaming event to support advocacy and relief efforts. 
Originally from Denmark, Nielsen herself has worked and toured as a DJ and said she may one day return to playing sets of ’80s metal performed by dudes who look like ladies. In the meantime though, she is hopeful IVW will provide a space to briefly celebrate the independent venue community of the U.S., in spite of all the uncertainty the industry faces. 
This is the third year IVW is staging in the U.S., and the artist ambassador for this year is Alison Mosshart of The Kills and The Dead Weather. The last two artist ambassadors were Fantastic Negrito and Chuck D.