Big Issue invests in Hackney venues and young music talent

Arlo Parks at Village Underground in Shoreditch

Arlo Parks at Village Underground in Shoreditch - Credit: 2021 Michael Fung Photography

The Big Issue street newspaper is investing in iconic Hackney venues to help train young artists and creatives.

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the newspaper which gives people living with homelessness a chance to earn an income, has announced funding for Shoreditch venue the Village Underground and EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney), a multi-arts space in Stoke Newington. 

Auro Foxcroft, chief executive of VU X Earth Limited, the social enterprise which owns both venues, said: “We are grateful for Big Issue Invest’s support to lead us out of difficult times allowing us to launch new education facilities and programmes, renovate our venues and reopen bigger and better than ever before.

"We’re getting right back to hosting some of the greatest musicians from around the globe, supporting new talent, inspiring people and changing lives.”

Vampire Weekend at EartH Theatre in Stoke Newington

Vampire Weekend at EartH Theatre in Stoke Newington - Credit: Wyatt Dixon

Funding will support further refurbishment of the venues and training for young people to provide opportunities to enter the music industry over the next five years. 

The funding falls on a landmark year for Village Underground, which celebrates its 15th anniversary later this year.

In order to reach young talent for development opportunities VU will be collaborating with local providers such as Hackney Empire, Hackney Music Services and Progression Sessions on projects for young people. 

Village Underground venue in Shoreditch

Village Underground venue in Shoreditch - Credit: Beth Crockatt Photography

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This February, EartH is collaborating with Hackney Empire to showcase young talent in the borough with an upcoming performance put on by Hackney Empire Young Producers.

The event marks the start of the creative training programme, with future projects including Progression Sessions at EartH, where young people will create and record their own music.

One Hackney Empire Young Producer said of the Young Producers project: "It is amazing to put our gig on at EartH because it makes the possibility of being a full time musician feel more real and in my reach in a space that loads of big artists have performed at too."

Village Underground club shot

Funding from Big Issue Invest will help venues refurbish post-pandemic and support the training of young artists and creatives - Credit: © Photography by Jake Davis (

EartH Kitchen is a cafe at the Hackney venue

EartH Kitchen is a cafe at the Hackney venue - Credit: Claire Hebert

James Potter, investment director, Big Issue Invest, added: “I’m delighted to confirm this new investment by the BII Social Enterprise Impact Fund."

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