Community work of Ipswich's music scene could be 'replicated across UK'

Speakers in favour of the Yes We Can scheme shared their experiences of community outreach

Sybil Bell, co-founder of Can You CIC It?, speaks at the launch event at The Smokehouse - Credit: Rue Hackket

A national initiative to encourage music venues to open up during the day and bring music to the heart of their communities has officially launched. 

The Yes We Can scheme, run by community interest company Can You CIC It?, held its launch event at The Smokehouse on December 2.

Sybil Bell, founder of Independent Venue Week and Yes We Can, said: "The importance of small independent venues to the UK's music scene has become widely recognised, but we've always believed that these spaces play an even more significant role in the social fabric of the UK.  

"They're not only a focal point for music and the arts, they're outlets for entire communities, whether that’s parent and toddler groups, the elderly, young people or LGBTQ+ or disabled people.

"The goal of Yes We Can is to encourage more venues to open their doors and embrace a range of inclusive, community-based activities, giving people the chance to come together, in person, and develop relationships and skills to enrich their lives, all with music at its heart."

Yes We Can is part of Can You CIC It?, a community interest group that runs Independent Venues Week

Many activities will be going on next year as part of the Yes We Can initiative - Credit: Rue Hackket

Joe Bailey, speaker at the event and founder of The Smokehouse and Out Loud Music, said it was great to be used as an "example of a venue doing it right". 

He added: "Many music venues don't open until around 4pm, 5pm, which means there's an abundance of time where more could be happening. 

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"Opening up in the daytime gives opportunities to the community, from teaching new skills to empowering LGBTQ+ and female groups to providing projects for young people with additional needs.

"I got to speak at the event as an example of what Yes We Can hopes to replicate across the UK." 

Joe Bailey festival director. Sound City on the Cornhill in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Joe Bailey, festival director at Sound City, on the Cornhill in Ipswich. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

And after a tough year for the music sector, Mr Bailey admits that the outreach part of his programme is what's kept the business afloat throughout the pandemic. 

He said: "These events and initiatives strengthen venues economically and improve their standing in the community. 

"It's been an incredibly hard time, but our community daytime work has seen us reopen stronger and even more of a success." 

Yes We Can and The Smokehouse will be collaborating on a 14-week education course starting in February to give young people a broad introduction to the music industry delivered by relevant trade bodies and experts. 

This is one of many activities that will be going on next year as part of the initiative.

Colin Kreidewolf, Labour councillor for the Westgate ward, said: "I am really pleased to see Joe Bailey and his team getting national recognition for the fantastic community engagement work they do locally.  

"It is great to see the way they are giving opportunities to young people to explore options in the music industry. They have worked with many young people in my ward and I have been pleased to have supported them over many years." 

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