More artists boycotting UK music festivals over Barclays links to Israel

More artists boycotting UK music festivals over Barclays links to Israel

The UK music festival scene has experienced mass dropouts of late, with artists pulling out of The Great Escape, Latitude and Download over their partnership links with Barclays Bank.

Barclays has financial investment in companies that supply arms to Israel, something highlighted by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), who have revealed the bank’s investments of over £1 billion in shares and providing over £3 billion in loans. 

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Several comedians have followed in the footsteps of artists like CMAT by adding their voices to the ongoing boycotts. These include Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell and Alexandra Haddow, who have all dropped out of Latitude Festival (25-27 July) 

Duker released a short video explaining that she would no longer be performing as long as Barclays were the sponsor, adding that she believed the bank was «profiting from the production of weaponry» used in the Israel-Hamas war.

«I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence.” 

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It remains to be seen whether more acts and comedians will drop out, but in the meantime, musicians who are boycotting Download Festival, which takes place this weekend (14-16 June), have announced a joint show in Birmingham to raise money for Palestine. 

The four bands who dropped out of Download 2024 — Pest Control, Scowl, Speed and Zulu – have announced they are putting on a benefit gig at Centrala on Friday 14 June, the same day they were meant to perform at Download. They will also be joined by Cauldron, Ikhras and Transistrrr, with all proceeds to be donated towards Palestinian aid and related charities. 

In response to the exodus of acts, Barclays has defended its position, saying it recognises «the profound human suffering» caused by the 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. 

«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.” 


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