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Why are performers ditching Latitude Festival 2024?

Barclays has cut all ties with Live Nations events for 2024 including Latitude Festival. The bank’s financial interests in Israel’s weapons trade prompted a host of sponsors and performers to ditch the event.

As boycotts go in the cultural scene, this is a big one.

A host of talent across both music and comedy have decided to axe themselves from the lineup at Latitude Festival, which is fast approaching next month.

Sophie Ducker, Grace Campbell, Mui Zyu, and Georgia Ruth are among a growing list of performers to throw out their lanyards, and a fleet of sponsors including TK Maxx, Three, Co-Op, Bacardi, Grey Goose, Pepsi Max, and Aperol Spritz have followed suit.

The Suffolk-based festival has become the latest victim of an ongoing boycott that has already impacted the Isle of Wight Festival, Download Festival, and The Great Escape Festival – which lost around a quarter of its entire programme. But why?

What these events have in common is sponsorship deals of varying degrees with Barclays, a UK banking institution which is in seriously hot water over its alleged political ties.

Why is Barclays being targeted?

Barclays appears at the head of a target board designed by the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement), one of the biggest advocates in expressing solidarity with Palestine throughout the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Thrown in with the likes of Disney, McDonald’s, Puma, and Amazon, the BDS has highlighted Barclays as an entity that needs punishing for its alleged financial interests in both Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuels.

According to research by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Barclays holds north of £2 billion in shares and provides over £6 billion in loans to nine companies whose weapons and military tech are being used in the Israel-Hamas conflict. ‘Barclays is bankrolling Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians,’ its webpage reads.

In a statement responding to the claims, Barclays stated that ‘decisions on the implementation of arms embargoes to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.’

All attempts at placation from Barclays, unsurprisingly, have failed. In-fact, in recent weeks 20 of the company’s UK sites have been vandalised with windows smashed and red paint thrown in protest. The groups say that ‘radical direct action’ will continue until Barclays halts all related investments.

The recent revelations have also ignited a rush for performers and cultural figures to disassociate from Barclays.


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Performers secure victory

Comedian, Sophie Duke Campbell, was one of the first to announce her reluctant withdrawal from Latitude.

On Instagram, she posted a lengthy statement which included the message: ‘I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence.’

Fellow comedians Grace Campbell and Alexandra Haddow shortly followed with their own posts, the latter writing: ‘I can’t in good conscience take the fee.’ Before long, an entire cohort of talent had vetoed the festival.

Seemingly taking the advice of Welsh singer Georgia Ruth, who was among the crowd urging Latitude to ‘cut financial ties with Barclaycard,’ the Bank announced its plans to disengage from all Live Nations events for the remainder of 2024.

@burnercount8 #barclays #festival #uk ♬ HIND’S HALL – Macklemore

‘Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. The protesters’ 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,’ a statement read.

It remains to be seen if, unlike The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, those who had planned to abstain will now return to the stage in Suffolk next month. I guess we’ll have to monitor the situation closely.

Either way, Barclays’ withdrawal is viewed as a major victory for pro-Palestinian activist groups and will serve as a strong source of motivation to continue protests against corporate affiliates of Israel.