Ipswich Corn Exchange looks for more bands to boost audience numbers

Classical music concerts like those by Trianon are always popular at the Ipswich Corn Exchange. Phot

Classical music concerts like those by Trianon are always popular at the Ipswich Corn Exchange. Photo: TRIANON - Credit: Archant

The number of visitors to entertainment events at Ipswich Corn Exchange and Town Hall fell significantly last summer – largely because a number of shows were cancelled or postponed.

But bosses at the borough council are hoping to attract more shows to the venue – and are hoping to persuade promoters to bring more bands that might appeal to student audiences to the town centre location.

The council’s overview and scrutiny committee will this week hear that the number of people who went to shows at the Corn Exchange during the second quarter of the financial year (July to September) was just under 34,000 – considerably short of the target of 57,500.

The report into the figures said that there were nine fewer performances at the venue than there had been during the same period in 2016 – and that four planned performances had been postponed.

The previous year had seen a higher number of near-capacity shows at the Corn Exchange.

The summer months are set to be especially-targeted by the venue in future years in a bid to boost the number of events during this period.

And a spokesman for the borough said its staff were also working with students from the University of Suffolk to try to attract more modern bands to use the venue.

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However its size was an issue. He said: “It is quite large for some up-and-coming bands. The capacity is about 900 and that is too big for many bands – or they want a larger venue like the Regent.

“But there are some types of performers who like the venue. It is a good size for many classical concerts and they often get just the right number of audience for them.”

The fact that shows were postponed are likely to mean that the figures for shows during the last three months of 2017 are likely to be boosted by these audiences.

Ipswich does face competition from other cities with large student populations when it comes to attracting newer bands – in Norwich there are two similar-sized venues and in Cambridge that city’s Corn Exchange has a reputation for attracting some of the top rock and pop bands on the touring circuit because of the large numbers of students.