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Barclays suspends sponsorship of Latitude, Isle of Wight and Download festivals following Israeli protests

Barclays suspends sponsorship of Latitude, Isle of Wight and Download festivals following Israeli protests

Festival of Lights.  (Photo by Fergus McDonald/Getty Images)

Festival of Lights. (Photo by Fergus McDonald/Getty Images)

Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of all Live Nation festivals for 2024 after artists pulled out in protest against the bank’s provision of financial services to arms companies that supply Israel.

The bank signed a five-year contract with Live Nation last year covering the Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight festivals. The suspension does not appear to apply to the entire contract.

A Live Nation spokesman said: “After discussions with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will withdraw from sponsorship of our festivals.”

A Barclays spokesperson commented: “Barclays has been asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. Barclays customers who hold tickets to these festivals will not be affected and their tickets will remain valid.”

The news comes after a number of artists scheduled to perform at the festivals announced their withdrawal due to Barclays sponsorship.

The performances included the band Pest Control, singer CMAT and comedian Joanne McNally. More than 100 artists had previously cancelled their engagements at the Barclaycard-sponsored Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May.

The Download Festival began on Friday, while Isle of Wight is scheduled to begin next Thursday and Latitude on July 25.

Barclays has faced major protests from pro-Palestinian activists; earlier this week, around 20 of the company’s branches across the UK were vandalised by the group Palestine Action.

The bank’s spokesman added: “The protesters want Barclays to debank arms companies. We remain committed to this sector as it is essential to the security of this country and our allies.”

“They have resorted to intimidation of our staff, repeated vandalism of our stores and online harassment. The only thing this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions of people. It is time for leading politicians, business leaders, academics and artists to stand together against this.”

Protesters accused Barclays of having financial interests in both the Israeli arms trade and the fossil fuel trade. The bank says that while it provides financial services to “public companies that supply NATO and its allies with defense products,” it does not invest directly in these companies.

Barclays’ suspension follows that of Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford, which last week cancelled all remaining literary festival sponsorships after terminating its contract with the Edinburgh International Book Festival at the end of May.

Previously, a dispute had arisen over the company’s investments in fossil fuels and in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.