New Orleans bounce star Big Freedia has been tapped as this year’s artist ambassador for Independent Venue Week in the United States. Like most artists, Big Freedia launched her hip-hop career in independent venues and continues to advocate for their survival.
“I wouldn’t be here without the independent venue. After performing in local clubs for years, it was the independent venues that were the first to book me to play for audiences beyond New Orleans,” said Freedia in a statement. “Live music is still recovering from a tough few years. We need to support independent venues now more than ever.”
Big Freedia joins past Independent Venue Week artist ambassadors Bartees Strange (2021), The Kills’ Alison Mosshart (2020), Fantastic Negrito (2019), and Prophets of Rage/Public Enemy’s Chuck D (2018), as well as artist ambassadors for the U.K. initiative Wet Leg (2022), Nadine Shah and Portishead’s Adrian Utley (2018), Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood (2014) and more.
Independent Venue Week aims to celebrate and bring recognition to the locally owned live performance spaces that serve as the cultural and economic backbone of major cities and small towns across America. For its fifth year in the U.S., IVW will run from July 11–17 across the country. The 2022 edition of the festival has already secured 270 venues across 167 cities to participate. As Independent Venue Week approaches, Marauder — the firm that runs Independent Venue Week in the U.S. — hopes to reach the 450 shows throughout all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico accomplished in the 2021 edition.
“There are no global artists without independent venues providing the first opportunity for them to shine,” said Marauder senior director of special projects Cecilie Nielsen in a statement. “These businesses are the cultural touchstones of their communities and essential to the global music industry.”
From small rooms to large-capacity spaces, in major cities and small towns, this year’s participants represent the wide variety and personality of independently owned and operated performance spaces. Returning venues include Minneapolis’ First Avenue, Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, and Seattle’s The Crocodile as well as first-time participants including NYC’s Brooklyn Made and Philadelphia’s Underground Arts. More venues are to be announced in the coming months.
“Independent Venue Week means more today than ever, it is a celebration of the magic that only happens between artist and audience at a live concert,” said David M Mayeri, CEO of The UC Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. “It takes on a new meaning today because Independent venues pulled together to create community and partnership to survive and thrive again… the yearly t-shirt has come to symbolize a special badge of teamwork we all wear with pride.”
National Independent Venue Association and See Tickets will return as partners in 2022.