CYCIHeader | CYCIWebsite | Early Years | LGBTQ+ | News


– a new nationwide initiative opening up grassroots music venues during the day for education and community programs 

YES WE CAN offers independent music venues community-based activities to boost their offering, alongside live music

Activity offered in various sectors; Early Years | Young People
LGBTQ+ | Deaf, Disabled & Neurodivergent
Mental Health and Well-Being | Older Generation 

CAN YOU CIC IT?, the Community Interest Company that runs Independent Venue Week in the UK, is very excited to announce the launch of Yes We Can – a new development, education and community platform, that highlights, promotes and delivers a diverse range of activities taking place during the day across grassroots venues around the country. 

Backed by Arts Council England, Yes We Can is a combination of original initiatives such as the Yes We Can Be education program and Soundcheck Sessions as well as working with a range of specialist partners who are leaders in their field. Many are already providing community-based activities in fields encompassing the Early Years, Young People, as well as LGBTQ+ and Deaf, Disabled & Neurodiverse People initiatives supporting Mental Health and Well Being and the Older Generation..

These launch partners are: Dr Jen Wills Lamacq, Attitude is Everything, Drake Music, Stay Up Late, Help Musicians UK and Come Play With Me. Alongside these partners are music industry trade bodies who will be delivering sector expertise for the Yes We Can Be education program including, Featured Artists Coalition, Ivors Academy, Musicians Union, Music Managers Forum, Association of Independent Promoters, Music Publishers Association, Music Producers Guild and the Association of Independent Music.

Yes We Can will bring this activity into venues during the day, throughout the year across the country, driving more of this additional activity into venues so they can sustain themselves alongside live music and grow their relationships with other groups in their local community as well as around the country.

Presenting a rolling series of events, as well as promoting the wider impact of these organisations’ work, Yes We Can will actively seek to build new community-based partnerships – encouraging IVW venues to open their doors to their local communities, diversify their programming and cement their

Sybil Bell, Founder Independent Venue Week & Yes We Can

“Through initiatives like Independent Venue Week, the importance of small independent venues to the UK’s music scene has become widely recognised. However, 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 up and down the country. 

Yes We Can provides a spotlight and program for this hugely important but less-celebrated work to encourage more of it to go on in small music venues up and down the country – whether that’s for parent and toddler groups, for the elderly, for young people or in support of LGBTQ+ or disabled people. Our goal is to encourage even 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 will officially launch today, Thursday 2 December 2021, via a special event at The Smokehouse venue in Ipswich. The event will hear from Sybil Bell, Founder of Yes We Can and Independent Venue Week and Joe Bailey, Founder of The Smokehouse and Outloud Music about their work with young people in the Ipswich area and Adrian Cooke from Arts Council England on why they felt it was important to back this particular project.

This will be followed by an In Conversation hosted by Nadine Artois, DJ and co-founder of Pxssy Palace – the club night and collective that prioritises womxn and queer/intersex/trans people of colour. Nadine will be speaking with Joe Hastings of leading music mental health charity, Help Musicians, Jane Dyball from Attitude is Everything, the main music industry charity championing the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent community and Dom Fraser who runs The Boileroom Guildford, a community focused live music venue.

Claire Mera-Nelson, Director, Music, Arts Council England, said –

“As we move beyond lockdown and into a recovery phase, the importance of independent, grassroots music venues to the local and artistic communities they serve is greater than ever. Independent Venue Week has been a vital ingredient in the success of our grassroots live music sector, showcasing our brilliant independent venues and artists across the country each year; but now their work will become even more important as they move to deliver year-round development, education and community programmes on a national basis through the Yes We Can initiative.” 

“Thanks to the National Lottery we’re pleased to be able to support Yes We Can and the grassroots venues it benefits across the country. We’re excited by the opportunities this work will open up to venues, artists and communities alike – helping to explore new ways to re-energise spaces, attract new audiences, provide innovative platforms for a new generation of artists and support venues to become even more inclusive and further cement themselves within the cultural and social fabric of the places in which they are based.”

Running both digitally and directly in venues in person, Yes We Can will drive more of this additional activity into venues, highlighting why they are cultural hubs for learning, creativity, arts and culture more widely, connecting like-minded people in their local community, all on a national scale.

The initial program of activity will be running around the country up to the end of May 2022 and details can be found on the CAN YOU CIC IT website here. Activities range from

Early Years

The Music In You sessions for parents of toddlers learning how music helps play, bonding and development.

Young People

Soundcheck Sessions, where young people watch a soundcheck take place in a music venue before a live show. They will have the opportunity to take part in a Q&A with the artist and crew.

Yes We Can Be, a 14 week education course starting during Independent Venue Week at The Smokehouse, this course will give young people a broad introduction to the music industry delivered by relevant trade bodies and experts.


Come Play With Me, two live performances with and for the LGBTQ+ community, one as part of a Women and People of Marginalised Genders In Music Conference.

Deaf, Disabled & Neurodivergent:

Attitude is Everything launching their #JustAsk, a campaign supported initially by 4 online sessions guiding promoters how to ask artists for an disability and access needs when booking.

Drake Music, will be announcing plans for the Yes We Can partnership in the New Year supporting artists with disabilities using technology to create and perform new music.

Mental Health and Well-Being

Help Musicians UK partnership delivering 2 different sessions; The first, a 6 week Tonic Rider series and the second 2 Focus Sessions in partnership with BAPAM – details to be announced soon.

Gig Buddies, a special partnership that will take place at two live shows, the first in January as part of Independent Venue Week and a second one in April. The two shows will feature special lighting and sound levels ensuring the space is safe for those with disabilities.

More activity and partnerships will be announced next year. 

During the campaign YES WE CAN will be devoting a big focus on Arts Council England’s priority places for 2021-2024, these include: 

London Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Croydon, Enfield, Newham

Midlands Ashfield, Bolsover, Boston, Chesterfield, Dudley, East Lindsey, Nuneaton & Bedworth, NE Derbyshire, Mansfield, Sandwell, Stoke on Trent, Walsall, Wolverhampton

NorthBarnsley, Barrow in Furness, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Copeland, County Durham, Kirklees, Knowsley, NE Lincolnshire, Rochdale, Rotherham, Selby, South Tyneside, Tees Valley Combined Authority, Wigan

South East Basildon, Crawley, Dover, Fenland, Great Yarmouth, Luton, Medway, Peterborough, Slough, Tendring

South West Gloucester, Gosport, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Wight, The New Forest, North Devon, North Somerset, Portsmouth, Rushmoor, South Somerset, Swindon

Activities and events are open to people of any age, gender (unless stated otherwise), background, location, ability, means, ethnicity and skills, and will prioritise areas around the country with low arts engagement and those people from marginalised groups. 

We are also actively targeting young people who have been excluded or who are seen as difficult, which often results in them missing out on opportunities. For us, these young people are often bright but bored, struggle with traditional education and therefore may not suit conventional employment or desk-based jobs. We believe a career in live music offers them a very viable opportunity.  

There is a wealth of untapped talent all around the country that often misses out of mainstream opportunities for a number of reasons. By bringing these opportunities direct and local to them, we are looking to unlock that potential and provide fulfilment for people all around the country whether personal or career focused. 

Please see here for full details:

For additional images and comment on YES WE CAN please get in touch with or or


About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Funds. Find out more at



CAN YOU CIC IT? is a Community Interest Company delivering a range of music based activities in grassroots music venues during the day, throughout the year, across the country. Our biggest event is Independent Venue Week, a seven day celebration of grassroots live music venues and their communities, on and off stage, around the UK. 

We are rolling out our new education, development and community program, Yes We Can, bringing various activity into venues during the day, when so many are closed. Yes We Can offers activity from early years through to the older generation.

The initial program will include some of our own activity as well as working with specialist partners. Whilst the program is open to anyone and everyone, we will be prioritising areas around the country with low arts engagement and those people from marginalised groups. 

Seeing this activity taking place in venues feels like such a natural fit. Venues are located at the heart of their communities yet often not opening up until 4pm as bands arrive for their soundcheck ahead of their evening show. 

Our goal is to drive more of this additional activity into venues so they can sustain themselves alongside live music and grow their relationships with other groups in their local community as well as around the country. 

By championing these venues and delivering this activity, we are demonstrating and highlighting why they are cultural hubs for learning, creativity, arts and culture more widely, connecting like-minded people in their local community of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, skills and walks of life.

Similar Posts