Long Wait For Cambridge Folk

Cambridge Folk Festival may need to help fund a special investigation if it’s to see any of the £618,000 it lost when its ticket seller went bust.

Nick Simmonds of Tenon Recovery, the insolvency experts unraveling the collapse of Secure Ticket (UK), is prepared to thoroughly investigate the company’s demise, even though there doesn’t look to be enough in the pot to cover his company’s fees.

He told Pollstar he will continue to look at what took down Secure Ticket (UK), then report back to creditors if he believes pursuing a legal action against its directors would yield any more cash.

“We would look carefully at any formal proposal from the administrators to assess its potential costs and benefits,” said Ian Nimmo-Smith, the leader of the Cambridge City Council that funds the small but internationally known event.

Earlier, Nimmo-Smith said the council would “take all reasonable steps that might result in payment of some or all of the money we are owed.” His council is also chasing the estimated £6.5 million to £8 million it invested in Icelandic banks.

Secure Ticket (UK) – which sold about 60 percent of the festival’s 10,000 tickets – went into voluntary liquidation in February, a couple of days before Cambridge City Council was to have it wound up.

It also collapsed in extraordinary circumstances, which blew up when the ticket company used the Cambridge ticket money as working capital because it mistook it for a similar sum it was expecting from European investors. The European investment money never materialized.

Cambridge officials are angry because the financial services company that collected the festival ticket money on Secure Ticket (UK)’s behalf should have forwarded it to the city council, rather than hand it over to the ticket company.

Simmonds has confirmed that there’s documentary evidence that appears to support Secure Ticket’s contention that the company’s problems were a result of this mistake, although he’s declined to discuss what happened to the millions of pounds of investment money it went through in 18 months.

Creditors such as Cambridge Folk, Musical Associates (UK) Ltd. and Retrofest, which needs the Secure Ticket money to stave off its own financial collapse, will need to look at what Simmonds’ first investigation reveals before deciding if it’s worth forking over more money to fund further investigation.

Simmonds said the lack of funds within Secure Ticket (UK), even after the disposal of most of its assets, means his company is unlikely to be paid in full for the work it’s carried out so far and further work will need to be fitted around the rising pile of other U.K. bankruptcies that Tenon is being called upon to investigate.

Although Cambridge Folk Festival has recently signed a sponsorship deal with the Co-Op, it hasn’t materially affected the budget as the giant retail chain is only putting in the money that previous sponsors have supplied in the past.

“The 2009 Folk Festival has a budget funded on the same basis as previous years. There has always been an expectation of an element of sponsorship, as Charles Wells brewery and BBC Radio 2 have supplied in the recent past,” Nimmo-Smith explained.
“The Co-Op sponsorship is very welcome but does not materially alter the scale or the quality of the programming of the festival, which will all be to the usual high standard.”
This year’s Cambridge is July 30 to Aug. 2 and has a lineup that includes Lucinda Williams, The Zutons, Los Lobos, The Saw Doctors, Booker T, The Waterson Family, Buffy St. Marie, Eddie Reader, Blazin’ Fiddles and Hot Club Of Cowtown.