Barclays Steps Back From Sponsoring Download, Latitude, Isle Of Wight Festivals

15 June 2024 | 10:42 am | Mary Varvaris

SPEED dropped off the Download festival line-up in protest against Barclays providing financial services to defence companies supplying Israel this week.

Rise Against @ Download Festival Melbourne

Rise Against @ Download Festival Melbourne (Credit: Jay Hynes)

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British bank Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of UK festivals Download, Isle Of Wight and Latitude after bands and people on social media began protesting over the bank providing financial services to defence companies arming Israel.

Last year, Barclays signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Live Nation – endorsing its festivals – but the pause in sponsorship isn’t said to apply to the whole contract, The Guardian reports.

In a statement to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Barclays said, “Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. Barclays customers who hold tickets to these festivals are not affected, and their tickets remain valid.

“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.”

The spokesperson added that staff have been intimidated and branches have been vandalised due to protestors’ actions, writing: “The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions. It is time that leaders across politics, business, academia and the arts stand united against this.”

Overnight, UK rockers Enter Shikari, who are featured on the Download festival line-up, responded to Barclays's decision to pull out of sponsoring this year’s event.

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“We have been in talks with Download themselves, expressing our serious objection at Barclays involvement,” the band wrote on social media. “We have considered all options, and along with other artists have been working tirelessly on this.”

“We don’t believe in rushed reactions and always want the best outcome for all involved. Thanks to this collective pressure we now believe we have achieved that – Barclays have pulled out of Download Festival.”

Enter Shikari also praised the festival and the activist group, Bands Boycott Barclays, after the decision was made official.

“This is what we can achieve when we work together instead of dividing ourselves with attempts at moral purity,” the band continued. “There are many understandable positions on this, don’t be malicious and don’t be divided. It does not help the cause.”

The band concluded, “Though public support for an Israeli weapons embargo is strong, political will is small. In order to change this we must stand strong together.”

In another statement, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter): “A bank funding war crimes has no place at music festivals. The fact that Download has listened to its musicians and cut ties with Barclays Bank is a testament to the power of artists taking collective action for human rights.

“I’ve been pushing hard for this behind the scenes for some time and I salute all the artists who have taken a stand to help make this historic withdrawal happen.”

Download Festival will take place from 14 to 16 June 2024 at Donington Park and is headlined by Queens Of The Stone Age, Fall Out Boy, and Avenged Sevenfold.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) launched the Boycott Barclays campaign in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which has seen tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians killed since October 7.

Earlier this week, rising Australian hardcore band SPEED and acts including Scowl, Zulu and Pest Control dropped off the Download Festival line-up, with the Aussies writing: “SPEED will no longer be playing Download Festival this Friday June 14 due to the recent news of Barclays Banks sponsorship of the event and their involvement in the war in Gaza.”

Last month, 25% of the line-up of the UK showcase festival The Great Escape boycotted the event due to its ties with Barclays. In March, artists protested against SXSW’s alleged connections to defence industry partnerships supplying weapons to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).