The owner of one of the most popular music venues in Cornwall has written to Cornwall Council’s leader and chief executive, as well as his local MP, begging for their help in securing the future of grassroots live music in the Duchy, as his and other venues struggle through a crisis in the industry, writes Lee Trewhela Local Democracy Reporter.

As reported in the Packet yesterday, recent report by the Music Venue Trust revealed that 125 grassroots venues were forced to permanently close their doors in 2023, including the much-loved South West haven for live music, Bath Moles.

Rufus Maurice, who is co-director of the Cornish Bank in Falmouth, said: “2023 has been the most challenging year ever for venues like ours.”

Falmouth Packet: The Cornish Bank has hosted the likes of Gruff Rhys, rightThe Cornish Bank has hosted the likes of Gruff Rhys, right (Image: Lee Trewhela)

He said that although the bijou venue in Church Street is trying to make things work financially, it may have to launch a crowdfunding bid to ensure its survival.

Rufus started the Bank with his business partner, Will Greenham, and the help of various loans and grants in 2021. Opening just as the Government lifted lockdown restrictions, the venue was initially selling out events up to seven nights a week.

However, despite a slowdown after music fans’ initial post-lockdown desire for entertainment, Rufus and his team have managed to maintain a steady trade while other venues have gone to the wall, but it’s a constant struggle.

He was recently featured in an article in The Independent exploring the music venue crisis across the UK. He told the paper: “It’s been tough. I think grassroots is massively underfunded despite generating so much for the industry. I don’t think they get the respect for the work they’re doing.

“I’ve got staff working for us who are living in caravans or just struggling to pay their rent. The rents are crazy around here – we pay £90,000 for this place. Then we’ve got wages, stock … and a 25-grand electricity bill.”

Rufus says the Music Venue Trust report had “sent shivers” through him and his team. He told The Independent: “I think everyone in this industry is looking behind them – every time I hear that the doors of another venue have closed, I feel terrified. We’re pretty efficient but there are no more margins to cut, and that’s a really scary thing.”

The Cornish Bank is part of the Music Venues Alliance, a network of venues across the country which is represented by the Music Venue Trust. Rufus wrote to his local Conservative MP, Cherilyn Mackrory, highlighting the Trust’s Annual Report 2023 in the House of Commons last month, telling her: “I would appreciate you attending as a matter of high priority for the future of live music in Falmouth.” He didn’t get a response.

He has now written to Cornwall Council’s chief executive Kate Kennally and Conservative leader Linda Taylor asking for the local authority’s help in ensuring the survival of a vitally important part of Cornwall’s culture and economy.

He told them: “Recent developments have indicated a growing crisis within the industry and I believe it is crucial that we take action to preserve and promote the vibrant and growing music scene that Cornwall is becoming renowned for.

“In the past 12 months, 125 venues across the UK have been forced to close their doors for live music, resulting in the loss of 4,000 jobs, 14,250 events, 193,230 performance opportunities, £9 million of income for musicians and £59 million in lost direct economic activity.

“These closures have had an immediate and profound impact on the economic, social and cultural fabric of our local communities. The music venues that have been lost were cherished places that brought people together, fostered a sense of pride in our locality and served as incubators for creativity and aspiration. The closure of these venues not only affects our communities but also poses a threat to the British music economy, an area where we have established ourselves as world leaders.”

Rufus added: “I am writing to seek your support in championing grassroots music in Cornwall. Our county has a rich cultural heritage and live music is an integral part of our identity. It is crucial that we take steps to protect and nourish this sector, ensuring that our artists have platforms to showcase their talents and our communities have access to live music experiences.”

He has requested that Cornwall Council considers allocating resources and support to the grassroots music sector. “By investing in local venues, providing opportunities for emerging artists and promoting live music events, we can work together to stimulate economic growth, enhance community cohesion and foster a vibrant cultural landscape in Cornwall.”


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The Cornish Bank has proved a lifeline for music fans in Cornwall, especially those whose tastes are wider than the mainstream.

The venue organises a much-loved annual festival across Falmouth, Wanderfal, and has attracted acts from all corners of the globe.

Artists who have played there include Squid, Gwenno, Robyn Hitchcock, Billy Nomates, BC Camplight, Gruff Rhys and it also hosts the ever-popular Cornish dance nights, Klub Nos Lowen.

Musicians worth seeing at the Bank this year include The Bug Club, Bel Cobain, I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell, rising Cornish folk star Daisy Rickman, Haunt The Woods and Dizraeli.