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Friction between small venue events

23 January 2019

IT SEEMS that competition in the grassroots sector has taken on a new meaning, with the annual nationwide Independent Venue Week (IVW) being immediately followed by Fightback Bristol in the city.

The events’ organisers – IVW founder Sybil Bell, and Mark Davyd and Beverley Whitrick of the Music Venue Trust (MVT), of which Bell was a trustee until last year – used to co-operate.

But MVT timed its two-week Bristol event to start the day after IVW’s 28 January-3 February week in the city, which has caused confusion.

MVT says it’s presenting 100 shows across 14 venues in the city and Fightback, which was originally launched to raise funds for its activities, “will encourage audiences to visit their local grassroots music venue”.

IVW also encourages people to support their local venues, although also encourages travel further afield.

“MVT were set up to buy venue freeholds and lobby government – there was never any talk or remit about putting on live shows,” IVW’s Bell tells LIVE UK. “We left them to their goals and up until recently, we thought they’d respected ours.

“Some people think we are the same organisation, which can be frustrating, so all we can do is keep saying that we are not.”

IVW’s supporters include Arts Council England, PPL-PRS, Musicians Union and Help Musicians UK. Supporters of Fightback include Ents24 and industry umbrella body UK Music.

MVT’s Whitrick tells LIVE UK she did not see the close proximity of the two events as an issue.

“The thought process behind the chosen dates was simply because of when the venues wanted to hold it,” she says. “The only concern for us regarding IVW was that we did not want to clash and hold Fightback Bristol in the same week.”

Bristol venues participating in IVW include The Fleece (cap. 450), The Exchange (250) and The Louisiana (140), while those taking part in MVT’s Fightback Bristol include O2 Academy Bristol (2,000), Thekla (400) and Trinity (200).

Some venues, including The Fleece and The Louisiana are taking part in both events.

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