Cambridge Makes Headlines

England’s Cambridge Folk Festival bucked its recent trend of making headlines for things other than music by recording its 14th sellout in 15 years July 28-31.

Since the end of 2008, the 10,000-capacity gathering, which can punch above its weight when it comes to attracting international acts, has made headlines in regional papers over the £645,000 it lost when Secure Ticket UK tanked.

Cambridge City Councillors have been quoted as saying the authority will pursue “all options” to recover the money.

Tenon Recovery, the insolvency practitioners charged with wrapping up the affairs of Secure Ticket UK, would need further funding from Cambridge and the other festivals that got burned before taking the matter any further.

The immediate effect on the festival was that talent booker Eddie Barcan appears to have had his budget cut since 2009, although he’s still had Lucinda Williams, Natalie Merchant, and Kris Kristofferson among his headliners.

Last year’s festival fell just short of a sellout, with 99 percent of tickets sold.

The issue exercising a few local councillors in the lead up to this year’s bash in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall was the festival’s connection with Rupert Murdoch.

Council leader Sian Read made assurances that the authority has “not had any relationship with News International with regards to advertising.”

She was responding to a question from Councillor Amanda Taylor, who was trying to find out the extent of the council’s dealings with the company at the heart of the current phone-hacking scandal.

“I think we have all been disgusted by their breaking and entering into private lives,” she said, apparently referring to the News Of The World’s methods of gathering news.

The council-run festival’s involvement with Murdoch appears to boil down to a media partnership with Sky, part of the tycoon’s BSkyB empire.

Along with other major UK festivals such as Isle Of Wight and Latitude, highlights from Cambridge get late-night screenings on the satellite channel.

The festivals get a fee from BSkyB for material screened on the Sky Arts channel.

Apart from the festival’s tenuous involvement with Murdoch, the council’s more direct connection with him includes its pension fund investing in his News Corp and BSkyB.

The acts this year included Laura Marling, Richard Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Newton Faulkner, Pentangle, The Robert Cray Band, and Femi Kuti & The Positive Force.