More than 100 Acts Pull out of The Great Escape due to Barclays Sponsorship Links

The Brighton festival's opening showcase has subsequently been cancelled

More than 100 acts have cancelled their scheduled appearances at this week’s The Great Escape festival in Brighton as part of a Palestine-supporting campaign against event sponsor Barclays.

Bands Boycott Barclays is a protest movement that alleges the bank Barclays has continued to increase its investment in arms companies that trade with Israel. The campaign has received social media support from acts such as Massive Attack and Brian Eno, as well as around 25 percent of the performers who had been due to play at this year’s The Great Escape, which kicks off today (May 15) and runs through until Saturday (May 18).

A number of showcases due to be held at venues around Brighton as part of the festival have been entirely cancelled or partly disrupted due to the wave of pullouts from acts that were scheduled to perform at them. Among those events are the festival’s opening showcase, which was set to take place today, and a keynote speech, called Biophobia, by Jarvis Cocker. The latter event, organised by Brian Eno’s charity EarthPercent, was described by The Great Escape as “a special climate-themed talk about getting to grips with nature”, but is now no longer listed on the festival’s website.

Concerns over Barclays’ sponsorship of The Great Escape were first raised in April when a number of artists signed an open letter calling on the festival to drop its connections with the bank.

In a statement issued around that time, Massive Attack, who signed the letter, said: “It’s extraordinary to think that in 2024 promoters and festivals still don’t understand that as artists, our music is for sale but our humanity and morality is not.”

Alfie Templeman, who has cancelled his appearance at the festival, said his “morals cannot and will not align with the amalgamation of entertainment and human suffering”.

Bands Boycott Barclays was established in response to a call for a boycott of Barclays by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which claimed the bank has “substantial financial ties” with arms companies supplying weapons to Israel. In addition to The Great Escape, Barclays also sponsors UK festivals such as Latitude and Isle Of Wight.

Launched as an annual event in 2006, The Great Escape has established itself as a key UK showcase of new music and upcoming acts. Up to 500 artists had been listed to play the festival at various venues around Brighton before the wave of cancellations started.

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