With the dust barely settling on its 19th anniversary, the Camden Crawl has been placed into voluntary liquidation by its founder, Lisa Paulon.
Originally launched by Paulon and a group of friends, in 1995, the Camden Crawl has, in recent years, been struggling to stay afloat in a sea of fierce competition. Its once ground-breaking scheme of offering one wristband for festival goers, to access a plethora of venues in close proximity, has been assumed by rival festivals across the UK. It has become apparent that, in recent years, the London based independent music festival has proved uncompetitive in terms of bands, fans and innovation.
So, although widely recognised as a cornerstone of the independent festival circuit, dedicated music lovers will have no choice but to strike the ‘Crawl’ of their prospective calendar for next summer. Names previously associated with the Camden Crawl include Adele, Florence & the Machine and the late Amy Winehouse.
Yet, despite the richness of its history, festival officials issued a statement last Friday holding poor ticket sales responsible for their inability to pay their spiralling debts to suppliers, staff and shareholders. A source close to the festival, who has chosen not to reveal his identity, confirmed that the majority of venues lost money as they were not informed of the low ticket sales:
“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.”
Paying little heed to the “regret and sadness” expressed by the event organisers regarding the state of affairs, those affected have made their voices heard about Paulon & Co.’s behaviour. Musicians who performed two weeks ago have taken to social media to slam the organisers for going into liquidation before paying them their dues. All emailed requests for payment were met with an out-of-office reply, which read:
“Please be aware, unfortunately Crawl Promotions Limited T/A Camden Crawl is experiencing financial difficulty. 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”
Considering the liquidator had yet to be appointed, this automated response can be considered premature, in that there was no official system in place whereby those owed money could communicate with debtors.
Indie label, Invada Records, painted a stark picture of festival organisers’ conduct surrounding the booking process on twitter:
“#CamdenCrawl gone under without paying 2 Invada bands. They point blank refused to pay advance deposits & used the #TrustUs mantra throughout”
Shareholders and creditors are set to convene on 11th July to decide how they will conduct the ‘winding up’ process. Following liquidation and the subsequent appointment of a liquidator, he/she will gather all assets, address all creditor claims and if possible pay a proportionate payment of the debt due to creditors.
The official statement issued on the company’s website 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,” the statement reads.
“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 can only be hoped that the directors of the Camden Crawl handle the Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation with more prudence, ensuring good, solid advice is accepted, a concise plan is formulated between debtors and creditors and repayments are made on time. Although, the decision to voluntarily place one’s company in liquidation is agonising for the founders, they can be credited for accepting their failure and seeking to devise a plan to get out of the red.