It’s All At The Co-Op For Cambridge Folk

With little hope of seeing any of the £618,000 ($920,000) it’s said to have lost when its ticket-seller tanked, Cambridge Folk Festival will welcome a major sponsorship deal with the Co-op.

Neither the festival nor the Co-operative Group is saying how much the deal is worth, but Julie Smith – an executive city councilor for arts and recreation – said she’s delighted the retail group wants to have a closer relationship with the event.

“Having won last year’s Greener Festival Award, we feel that the festival’s organisers and attendees are truly representative of the Co-op’s commitment to ecological sustainability,” said Co-op sponsorship manager Liz Matkin. “To be supporting an event such as this will hopefully inspire more people to get involved and raise people’s awareness of their personal social responsibility.”

Nick Simmonds of Trenton Recovery, who is winding up the affairs of Secure Ticket (UK), reckons the sale of its assets won’t raise enough to even cover the cost of the liquidation. Secure Ticket sold about 60 percent of the festival’s 10,000 tickets.

Cambridge’s only hope of seeing any money is to bring its own potentially expensive action against the ticket company or its directors. The alternative would leave the city’s taxpayers footing the bill.

The famous university city’s council, which funds the annual festival, has made it clear it will do all it can to recoup the funds.

Simmonds has confirmed he’s recently received a file from Cambridge council, although he said he could not disclose details of its contents. The council has been chasing its money since last summer and got as far as applying for Secure Ticket (UK) to be wound up, but the ticket company beat it to the punch by going into voluntary liquidation.

“There are a lot of people who are far from happy with what has happened,” Simmonds explained, pointing out that one unnamed investment company has a £4.47 million downside.

Despite the fact Trenton Recovery and the various lawyers involved in the liquidation are likely to collect only two-thirds of their fees, Simmonds said he’s obviously continuing his statutory duties as receiver and also investigating how he should advise creditors in regard to taking private action. He said he expects it will take at least a further three or four months to resolve the matter.

Charles Wells Brewery supported the Cambridge event until 2003, when BBC Radio 2 stepped in. Two months before last year’s sellout event, the festival announced it needed a new backer.

As it’s run by the local authority and funded by public money, the organizers said they were ideally looking for “an ethical company” that can also demonstrate a proactive approach to environmental issues.

At the time, the council said it would try to attract sponsors by promising “high level branding opportunities to an audience base that is made up of a broad range of ages and occupations with a high percentage identified as being professionals with a good level of disposable income.”

The festival has developed a worldwide reputation, despite its refusal to increase its 10,000 capacity at the beautiful Cherry Hinton Hall site – a combination that makes it an almost instant sellout.

Re-branded as Co-operative Cambridge Folk Festival, this year’s July 30 to August 2 bill includes Lucinda Williams, The Zutons, Los Lobos, The Saw Doctors, Booker T. Jones, Paul Brady, The Waterson Family, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Eddi Reader, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Martin Simpson, Susan Tedeschi, and Hot Club Of Cowtown.