Barclays Suspends Festival Sponsorship Amid Protests

Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of all 2024 music festivals organised by Live Nation, including popular events such as Download, Latitude, and the Isle of Wight Festival.

This decision follows protests and withdrawals by several artists due to Barclays’ investment ties with arms companies that trade with Israel.

The move came after artists including country singer CMAT, metal band Ithaca, and comedian Joanne McNally pulled out of their planned performances this summer. In response, Live Nation confirmed that Barclays would step back from its festival sponsorships after discussions with the artists.

Barclays had signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Live Nation in 2023, but this suspension reportedly does not cover the full duration of the contract.

Lankum, a Mercury-nominated band set to perform at Latitude, expressed their approval of the announcement on Instagram, highlighting the collective effort from bands, artists, and fans to reach this point. They emphasized the importance of standing together for a common cause.

This decision follows a larger trend of artistic protest against Barclays, including a boycott by over 100 artists at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival in May. Protesters have accused Barclays of increasing its investments in arms companies involved with Israel amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

A Barclays spokesperson confirmed the suspension and assured that customers with festival tickets would not be affected. They stated, “Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024.” The bank reiterated its commitment to the defence sector as essential for national and ally security, despite the protests leading to staff intimidation and vandalism.

Several bands, including Pest Control, Speed, Scowl, Zulu, and Ithaca, withdrew from this weekend’s Download festival. Pest Control highlighted their refusal to sacrifice their principles for personal gain, while Ithaca called for festival organisers to consider more carefully who they accept funding from.

Irish singer CMAT withdrew from Latitude, citing her unwillingness to let her music be associated with violence. Comedians Joanne McNally and Sophie Duker also pulled out, with Duker emphasizing her commitment to avoiding complicity in violence.

Grace Campbell, daughter of former Tony Blair spokesperson Alastair Campbell, and fellow comedian Alexandra Haddow also cancelled their performances, with Haddow stating she could not “in good conscience take the fee.”

Barclays has previously acknowledged the human suffering caused by the Gaza conflict, stating it provides financial services rather than direct investments in defence companies, and emphasized that decisions on arms embargoes should be made by governments.

The protest group Bands Boycott Barclays celebrated the suspension as a victory, condemning Barclays for their involvement with arms companies and calling their decision a moral win. They thanked the hundreds of artists who took action to make their voices heard.

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Barclays Suspends Festival Sponsorship Amid Protests