Barclays suspends sponsorship of UK music festival over threat of boycott

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Barclays has suspended sponsorship of some of the UK’s biggest music festivals after some bands threatened to boycott the events over the bank’s links to defense companies working in Israel.

The British bank said on Friday it had been forced to cut ties with music festivals organized by Live Nation this summer, such as Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight. The company said protesters intimidated employees and engaged in repeated acts of vandalism at branches and online harassment.

“The only thing this small group of activists can achieve is to undermine fundamental support for cultural events enjoyed by millions of people,” the bank said. “Now it’s time for leaders from politics, business, academia and the arts to unite against It’s time for this behavior.”

The group cited Barclays’ “links to weapons companies involved in the Palestinian genocide.” Irish singer-songwriter CMAT is one of the artists and comedians to have quit Latitude.

“The protesters’ agenda is to have Barclays debank defense companies, a sector that remains a vital part of the security of this country and our allies,” Barclays said.

Activists are now putting pressure on Wimbledon organizers to cut ties with the bank.

The decision will spark further debate about political activism in the arts, with many writers and publishers angry at the campaign that led to Bailey Gifford quitting the festival as a supporter.

The investment group has been forced to withdraw its sponsorship of the Hay and Edinburgh International Book Festivals, as well as Scotland’s Cheltenham, Cambridge and Wigtown Small Book Festivals, after investments allegedly linked to Israel and the fossil fuel industry Protested due to contact. Galleries, museums and music venues are also under pressure to end their partnerships with oil and gas companies.

In addition to Latitude, artists have also withdrawn from other Live Nation music festivals, such as Heavy Rock Weekend Download. Last month, a number of performers canceled gigs at the Great Escape music festival in Brighton.

However, due to soaring costs and unpredictable risks such as weather, many such festivals and events operate on slim financial margins and require long-term commercial support to stay in business.

Trade body the Independent Festivals Association said 40 UK festivals have been postponed or closed entirely in 2024, with more than 170 UK festivals having disappeared since 2019.

Nick Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, said in a statement that “the suggestion that we have significant funds in the occupied Palestinian territories is offensive and misleading.”

He added, “Activists [were] Their actions are directly responsible for the disincentive effect on arts funding in this country.”

“All eyes are now on Wimbledon and hopefully they will have the courage to do what other cultural institutions have done and pull the plug before all the pressure is turned on them in two weeks,” said Joanna Warrington of London’s Free Fossils. Sponsorship agreement with Barclays Bank”.

Barclays is a sponsor of Wimbledon and the largest donor to the Wimbledon Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young people.

“This will not stop until Barclays stops funding the destruction,” Warrington said.

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