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Camden Crawl goes into voluntary liquidation

By | Published on Friday 4 July 2014


Crawl Promotions, the company behind North London’s long-standing multi-venue music festival The Camden Crawl, has been put into liquidation by its organisers a week and a half after the event’s 2014 edition. And not just because they realised that the festival’s new name, CC14, wasn’t going to work next year. Amongst the creditors who seemingly stand to lose out are many of the bands who performed this year.

An official statement issued via the Camden Crawl website this morning reads: “Due to ticket sales falling far short of expectations for this year’s event, Crawl Promotions Ltd, the Company which promotes the Camden Crawl, is unable to pay its debts in full to any suppliers, staff or the Company’s directors and shareholders. As it stands the total debts substantially exceed the value of the assets of the Company”.

“Because of this completely unanticipated situation and after nearly ten years of successfully promoting the Camden Crawl festival, it is with great regret and sadness that there has been no other option than to convene meetings for the purpose of placing the Company into Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation”.

It continues: “An Insolvency Practitioner has been appointed to assist in this process. The Meetings of Shareholders and Creditors are scheduled for the 11 Jul 2014 and notices have duly been despatched to all concerned parties. Once the Company is in Liquidation and a Liquidator is appointed, the Liquidator will realise all assets, try and agree all creditor claims and if possible make a distribution (paying a portion of the debts due to all creditors)”.

Camden Crawl co-founder Lisa Paulson added to CMU this morning that the liquidation was “very upsetting news for all concerned”.

Prior to the formal announcement this morning, those owed money started to find out about the liquidation yesterday, when emails to the festival started returning an ‘out of office’ message, which read: “It is with great regret that the Board has decided that there is no option but to place the Company into Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. The Board has instructed an Insolvency Practitioner to assist in this process”.

With the liquidator at that point still to be announced, the ‘out of office’ update did seem to be a little premature, in that there was no formal system to manage communication with debtors about the liquidation. And as a result a number of the bands who now stand to lose out took to Twitter to express their anger.

News of the development was broken first by a tweet from the band Johnny Foreigner yesterday morning, who wrote: “So Camden Crawl just went into voluntary liquidation. Before the bands got paid. YOU POINTY SHOED SCAMMY BASTARDS”.

Others were similarly unimpressed, including Invada Records, the label owned by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. Two bands signed to the label, The Fauns and Thought Forms, performed at the event and have seemingly not been paid. The label tweeted: “Camden Crawl [has] gone under without paying two Invada bands. They point blank refused to pay advance deposits and used the ‘trust us’ mantra throughout”.

Meanwhile Jack Cooper from Mazes, another band who performed at CC14, tweeted “So Camden Crawl? Did you really just go into voluntary liquidation without paying us or anyone else?” A later post on his band’s Twitter feed then noted: “Cause and effect of Camden Crawl not paying us is that we’re broke enough now to finally have to give up our rehearsal space”.

A source close to the festival, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed this morning that the event’s debts were not just limited to the bands who played.

They said: “No one’s been paid. No venues, no suppliers, no staff. In some cases we’re owed more than the bands. I’ve been told to write the money off, to not expect it. I might get 10% of what I’m owed. Think about how many bands there are, that’s a significant number of debtors alone. The prospects of getting paid are minimal”.

The insider added that many of the venues involved in this year’s festival lost out further because they were not informed ahead of the event that ticket sales had been lower than expected.

“Ticket numbers were low and the venues weren’t warned”, they explained. “The venues put on staff for a busy night, based on what they would have expected in previous years. So the venues lost money during the event too, and they could have done something about that, had they been told what sort of numbers to expect”.

Of course, the independent festival game is a risky business, events routinely run to very tight margins meaning just one bad year can cause collapse. Though it does seem that communication of the problems facing The Camden Crawl this year was not great from the offset.

Originally launched by a group of friends in 1995, The Camden Crawl had found itself in an increasingly competitive marketplace in more recent years as its model – ie one wristband gets you into a multitude of venues in close proximity – was adopted by rival events around the UK, competing for the same bands even if not punters. And of course the number of festival-style events within London has greatly increased in the last decade too.

After taking a year off in 2013 (though a Dublin spin-off did go ahead that summer), moving from May to June, and rebranding as CC14, this year’s event was an attempt to regain some lost ground.

In an article for the Kentish Towner back in March Paulon said that a review of the event during its year off had resulting in the conclusion that “we needed significant change to reinvigorate the event, move away from the recent horde of copycats and address a host of other issues. We feel we have done that now and are very happy to be back with what we’re calling CC14”.