Independent Venue Week 2023: Interview with Operations Manager Erin Gibson

We caught up with Independent Venue Week's Operations Manager and Bookkeeper, Erin Gibson to chat about what's in store for the tenth anniversary of the nationwide celebration in 2023 and more

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 30th Jan 2023

Marking the first of 7 days celebrating 300 plus grassroots live music spaces across the UK, we caught up with Independent Venue Week's very busy Operations Manager and Bookkeeper, Erin Gibson, to find out what the team has in-store in 2023 to mark 10 years in the organisation's history.

Continue reading to learn more about Erin's role in the team, her standout memories from Independent Venue Week celebrations in past years, and this year's long-list of ambassadors.



Hi Erin, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you start by telling us how you came to be involved with the Independent Venue Week team, and share with us the responsibilities your current job role holds?

"Hello, so I am the Operations Manager and Bookkeeper here at Independent Venue Week (IVW) and Independent Venue Community (IVC). IVC is our daytime community programme that also takes place in independent venues and was born out of IVW. My role, along with our Founder Sybil Bell, is to ensure the running of the business and to oversee all of the finances related to our projects. I’m the newly appointed point of contact for all of our Welsh venues. I also do lots of other bits and pieces that ensure the business and the projects run smoothly – it’s a lot of work, very varied with lots of different responsibilities and I love it!"


This year marks Independent Venue Weeks' tenth anniversary. How has the outlook for venues changed over the past decade, for better or for worse, and what special plans or events do you have in store to celebrate this milestone occasion? 

"In year 1 we had 17 venues and this year for our 10th anniversary we have 308. I think those numbers speak for themselves! It's been incredible to see so many venues sign up for IVW year after year, both venues that have been a part of celebrations since year 1, and the new ones we get each time sign-up opens. The venues and the teams that run them celebrate each other during IVW and it's lovely to be a part of it. With everything that small independent businesses face, we want venues to thrive in their communities. To celebrate our 10th year, we have more venues than ever before and are really looking forward to getting out to some incredible spaces to meet the people in and around them!"


Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers, Welsh-speaking band Adwaith, 90s indie-rock revivalist Beabadoobee and Radiohead drummer, Philip Selway are among this year’s ambassadors. What’s the process behind choosing an IVW representative?

"There are different reasons we choose our ambassadors, not only do we wish to have ambassadors that represent the array of genres and individuals that make up the UK music industry, but we also choose ambassadors that believe independent venues are as important as we think they are. Each of our ambassadors has said that their local venue or their small venue tours are the reason they are the artists they are today."



6 Music radio host, Steve Lamaq is also set to champion the forthcoming week of live events taking place in more than 300 venues UK-wide this year. Can you tell us more about the BBC’s involvement in IVW 2023?

"BBC 6 Music is our official broadcast partner and has been since the start. 

"Steve and his team embark on an IVW tour of their own and their ongoing support every year means IVW is broadcast to people from villages, towns and cities across the country, sharing stories and experiences of local scenes from those on the ground, nationwide whilst encouraging people to go to their local venues and discover and enjoy live music."


It’s no secret that music venues in the UK have faced some extremely challenging economic times as of late. How have issues such as the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis had an effect on the number of venues still operating?

"Independent Venue Week is a time to celebrate the venues and the people who run them, who we feel deserve so much recognition for the hard work they do day in and day out. I think from our point of view here at IVW, knowing the climate venues are facing at the moment it's been incredible to see so many small businesses and independent venues survive, book some fantastic shows for January and still look forward to the celebrations next week. Having more venues than we have ever had before is a testament to the resilience of the venue community and their commitment to providing beautiful, safe spaces for their communities."


How important are independent music venues to communities across the UK? And why should the public choose to support these places of culture?

"Without independent venues, local artists would have nowhere to play their first shows. These are the places they try out their craft and find out what works. They are invariably locally owned businesses putting back arts and culture and creating jobs for people in their local community. 

"They are spaces where individuals learn about how to put on shows, young people learn that lighting engineers and sound tech exist, and they are the breeding grounds for the next generation of the music industry both on and off stage. Supporting local is immensely important, and more often than not, far more fun due to the intimacy of shows!"



Besides attending gigs during Independent Venue Week, how else can music fans and the general public support their local music spaces?

"This year we released our 10 commandments. This list consists of various ways to keep each other safe at shows, but also a few different ways to support your local music venues. Our 10 commandments can be found on our social media pages, but a few examples are: 

-Buy Tickets early and from an official source

-Arrive as doors open to support every act playing that night

-Support the merch stand

"Independent Venues also exist 52 weeks of the year so however many shows you can get to during #IVW23, make sure you keep supporting throughout the rest of the year."


Independent Venue Week has created some memorable moments in live music over the years, from IDLES bringing a manic close to celebrations in Liverpool back in 2018 to rapper novelist heading to Hull for a fire performance with the BBC’s 1XTRA team in 2019.

Do you have a particular favourite memory from the past ten years of IVW?

"Funny you should ask that exact question! I was once a student in Liverpool and stayed there after my graduation for a few years. One of my earliest memories of IVW was at the IDLES show you mention in 2018, at Parr Street in Liverpool, where I lived at the end of the road and was there as a gig goer.

"Things were brought full circle last year when I went to The Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow for the first time. IDLES were headlining and I finished my first IVW week as a member of the team, watching them at the venue I have most wanted to visit since I was about 13."


Looking forward to this year's 7-day event, are there any acts you’re especially buzzed to see live and if so, why?

"The whole team each has a fabulous week mapped out, where we each embark on our own IVW tour for the week and get to go and meet all of the people we chat with year-round. Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing Adwaith in CWRW on February 5th. Adwaith are our Welsh ambassadors and this year I have taken on the role of overseeing IVW in Wales. After spending more time in the nation this year I’ve gotten to know the Welsh scene a little more and Adwaith are playing a small hometown show in Carmarthen. That’s the last show I will see next week to end my IVW Year 10. It all feels very fitting and I’m really excited to watch the girls play out this year’s celebrations!"



Find Independent Venue Week shows happening in live music spaces near where you are, in our IVW 2023 Inspire Me page, and support your local music scene! 



Check out our What's On Guide to discover more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.








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