culture : Latitude, Download and Isle of Wight festivals no longer sponsored by Barclays

culture : Latitude, Download and Isle of Wight festivals no longer sponsored by Barclays
culture : Latitude, Download and Isle of Wight festivals no longer sponsored by Barclays

Friday 14 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - Barclays will no longer sponsor Latitude, Download or Isle of Wight festivals after musicians and comedians dropped out in protest over the bank's ties to the Israel-Hamas war.

Live Nation, the concert promoter, told Sky News: "Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals."

Upcoming Live Nation festivals across the UK this summer include Latitude, Download and the Isle of Wight.

Barclays signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Live Nation in 2023. It's not clear if the suspension will apply to all events up to 2028.

Comedians Joanne McNally, Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell, and Alexandra Haddow all announced they would be boycotting Latitude Festival last week.

Musicians including CMAT, Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu, and Georgia Ruth had also pulled out of the event.

Download Festival, which comes to Donington Park, Leicestershire this weekend, had seen acts including Pest Control, Ithaca, Scowl, Speed and Zulu pull out, also over the festival's sponsorship.

'Facilitating genocide'

In a statement on Instagram, Pest Control wrote: "We will not take part in an event whose sponsor profits from facilitating a genocide".

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Meanwhile, Ithaca wrote on X: "Whilst we hate letting anyone down, this moment of solidarity sends a powerful message to the organisers about where the younger generation of bands stand".

A spokesperson for Barclays told Sky News: "Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024".

Image: Pic: Palestine Action/X

Barclays calls on 'leaders' to 'stand united' against activist pressure

Palestine Action, a group whose members attacked 20 of the bank branches across England and Scotland last week, has accused Barclays of having financial interests in both Israel's weapons trade and fossil fuels.

The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign has called for a general boycott of the bank, while the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has named Barclays as one of their "divestment and exclusion" targets.

Barclays' statement went on: "The protestors' agenda is to have Barclays debank defence companies which is a sector we remain committed to as an essential part of keeping this country and our allies safe.

"They have resorted to intimidating our staff, repeated vandalism of our branches and online harassment. The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions.

"It is time that leaders across politics, business, academia and the arts stand united against this."

Barclays has said while it provides financial services to "public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies" it does not directly invest in the firms.

Latitude Festival told Sky News: "Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of Latitude Festival".

Comedians pull out en masse

Taskmaster star McNally, who had been set to close the Latitude Festival on Saturday wrote in an Instagram story last week: "I'm getting messages today about me performing at Latitude when it's being sponsored by Barclays.

"I'm no longer doing Latitude. I was due to close the comedy tent on the Sunday night, but I pulled out last week.

"I'm on the old artwork but I haven't been listed on the site since I pulled out a week ago."

Comedian Duker had shared a photo of her at a previous Latitude Festival, and confirmed she would be boycotting the event.

She wrote: "I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence".

The 34-year-old comedian also said her pro-Palestinian stance "has gained me violent abuse, targeted pile-ons and death threats".

Fellow comedian Grace Campbell, who is the daughter of Sir Tony Blair's former spokesman Alastair Campbell, shared Duker's post in an Instagram story, announcing she was also pulling out of the festival.

Meanwhile, comedian Alexandra Haddow said she too would no longer appear at Latitude, writing on Instagram: "I can't in good conscience take the fee."

In a post shared on her Instagram account last week, Irish singer-songwriter CMAT said she would boycott Latitude, writing: "I will not allow my precious work, my music, which I love so much, to get into bed with violence."

Isle Of Wight Festival. Pic: AP
Image: Isle Of Wight Festival. Pic: AP

Campaign groups celebrate victory

In response to the exodus of acts, Barclays previously defended its position, saying it recognised "the profound human suffering" caused by the Israel-Hamas war.

"We provide vital financial services to US, UK, and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies," it said in a statement published online.

"Barclays does not directly invest in these companies. The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations.

"Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments."

Bands Boycott Barclays declares victory

In response to Barclays stepping away, campaign group Bands Boycott Barclays, which has been leading the protests, wrote on Instagram: "This is a victory for the Palestinian-led global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

"As musicians, we were horrified that our music festivals were partnered with Barclays, who are complicit in the genocide in Gaza through investment, loans and underwriting of arms companies supplying the Israeli military.

"Hundreds of artists have taken action this summer to make it clear that this is morally reprehensible, and we are glad we have been heard.

"Our demand to Barclays is simple: divest from the genocide, or face further boycotts. Boycotting Barclays, also Europe's primary funder of fossil fuels, is the minimum we can do to call for change."

Last month, more than 100 acts dropped out of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton and Hove due to its ties to Barclays.

Climate campaigners also welcomed the move to suspend the Barclaycard sponsorship.

'Rotten bank'

Joanna Warrington at Fossil Free London said: "Barclays is a rotten bank: artists, brands, clients, and customers are all abandoning Barclays because of the billions Barclays is ploughing into fossil-fuel companies like Shell and Israeli arms companies dropping bombs on innocent Palestinian children.

"This won't stop until Barclays stops funding destruction."

Greenpeace UK's co-executive director Areeba Hamid said: "This bank is the biggest fossil-fuel funder in Europe, bankrolling oil and gas to the tune of billions of pounds, and has now been linked to arms companies involved in the conflict in Gaza.

"By putting an end to the greenwashing, festival organisers are sending a clear signal to Barclays that it's time they took responsibility for the destructive industries they fund."

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Festival sponsors face growing scrutiny

Barclays has confirmed that despite no longer being associated with the festivals, their customers with tickets will not be affected and their tickets will remain valid.

In a similar turn of events, Hay Festival dropped its sponsorship with investment management firm Baillie Gifford last month, after numerous celebrities pulled out due to the company's links with fossil fuels and businesses linked to the Israeli defence industry.

Activist group Fossil Free Books urged high-profile figures to distance themselves from the literary event, which saw performers including comedian Nish Kumar, singer Charlotte Church and Labour MP Dawn Butler pull out.

While in March many artists refuse to play SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, due to the event's connections to the US army and weapons companies linked with the conflict.

Download Festival will be held in Donington Park, Leicestershire this weekend.

The Isle of Wight Festival will be held in Seaclose Park, Newport, between 20 - 23 June, headlined by The Prodigy, Pet Shop Boys and Green Day.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk, held from the 25-29 July.

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