Last week was Independent Venue Week, the UK’s annual seven-day celebration of independent music & arts venues and the people that own, run and work in them.

However music venues across the country are struggling to survive in the post Covid landscape – including Falmouth’s very own Cornish Bank.

The music venue in the former bank in Church Street was opened by Will Greenham and Rufus Maurice back in 2021. They completely refurbished the place just in time to open as lockdown started to be lifted.

They were one of the first venues in the country to put on a live gigs attracting national attention with a performance by indie rock darlings Squid.

Since then they have increased capacity by installing a mezzanine and successfully completed a fundraiser to install extra soundproofing at the front of the building.

Falmouth Packet: A performance by Snapped Ankles at The Cornish BankA performance by Snapped Ankles at The Cornish Bank (Image: File pic)

They put on the music festival Wanderfal which utilises other small music venues across the town and the roving Summer Camp which celebrates world music, as well as putting on events at the Minack and partnering with the Princess Pavilion for the bigger artists.

They have had some major coups as well putting on Hip-Hop pioneers The Jungle Brothers, as well as venue favourites This is the Kit and rising local star Daisy Rickman.

However following initial success, last year, along with other small to medium venues, the venue has sometimes struggled to bring in the numbers of people it needs to survive.

A report by The Music Venue Trust (MVT), a charity representing hundreds of UK local music venues, found that 125 spaces closed or stopped hosting live music in the past year, accounting for 16% of grassroots venues.

The situation for the Cornish Bank is slightly better than a lot of music venues across the country as they’re not actually closing down – yet. But that doesn't mean they’re in a secure position to continue and need everybody’s help to survive.

“Everything’s gone up,” Rufus told the Packet. “We have got a lot of support but we are little exposed to risk because of the peoples’ habits.

“The cost of living crisis, formally known as poverty, is starting to bite and people are just really spending less when they go out. They’re still persisting in coming out for an evening of music but they are not spending as much.


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“People come in at 9pm when the band starts and leave as soon as they’ve finished, so are not spending at the bar.

“Right across the country things are particularly difficult for live music venues since Covid.”

Since the pandemic so many music venues have struggled to survive that applications for pots of money from places such as the Arts Council have soared as so many needed to apply.

While before Covid 100% of these bids would have been successful, now less than 8% of all arts culture applications are successful.

“Arts and culture are taking a hit,” said Rufus. “When a town council is having to choose which service to support, essential infrastructure is given priority.

The crises in small and medium size music venues in towns and cities was emphasised recently by the closure of the iconic Bath Moles, after 45 years of putting on some the world’s biggest and upcoming bands.

Those included Oasis, Radiohead, Blur, The Killers, Pulp, Tori Amos, Fatboy Slim, The Cure, Bastille, Eurythmics, George Ezra, The Smiths, Massive Attack and Wolf Alice .

In the meantime large music venues, arenas and stadiums are thriving as they are allowed to charge big bucks for tickets with big name stars appearing.

There is a call from the Music Venues Trust for those bigger venues and bigger artists to allow some sort of trickle down to smaller venues to acknowledge the debt owed to the grass roots venues in getting them to the arenas in the first place.

“Since we opened our doors there’s been a number of bands in this town that have gone on to have some success and gone on to tour nationally, putting Falmouth on the map,” said Rufus. “They have been going on to other towns and other bands are coming to our town with Falmouth music scene being cited in the national press.

“People need somewhere to play to nurture the grass roots of the music scene, like the grass roots in football. If there’s no interest in the grass roots, won’t have anyone. We need to keep the doors open “Lot of towns don’t even have a music venue anymore so local bands don’t have somewhere to play.

“The best support people can give is coming out to things. We are putting in Wanderfal in April and it’s the best one yet.

“It’s very easy for people to stay in, we are competing with Netflix. We know it’s hard for people to come out in January.”

The venue is launching its own donations card reader which will be placed on the railings outside the venue so people can donate to the running costs if they want to.

At the moment Rufus says they have to be risk adverse and if they can’t guarantee selling out a big name artist mid-week they’ll have to not put on the gig.

“We are still putting fairly big names on and a lot of other great stuff that isn’t well known, it’s part of what we do,” he said.