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Artists and Record Labels Boycott the Great Escape Festival Over Barclays Partnership

The bank has reportedly invested over £1 billion in companies supplying weapons and military technology to Israel.

the great escape
Source: The Great Escape

Half of the lineup has signed a petition calling on the Great Escape festival to drop Barclays as a partner.

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A number of bands and labels are pulling out of festival the Great Escape due to the Brighton-based festival's partnership with Barclays, a British bank that has reportedly invested over £1 billion in companies supplying weapons and military technology to Israel.

The Menstrual Cramps, Orchards, Other Half, mui zyu, and a dozen other artists have all cancelled their scheduled performances, and record labels Alcopop! and Big Scary Monsters have also joined the boycott.

"I will not be performing at @greatescapefest next month," mui zyu wrote on Wednesday. "The festival is sponsored by Barclays who are on the BDS Movement’s boycott list as they profit from the genocide in Palestine. Despite the festival being asked by many artists to drop Barclays – they haven’t officially commented any plans to do so."

"To be associating with Barclays doesn’t sit right with our ethical standpoint, and if we can do anything to help raise awareness, and ultimately highlight the corporate greed at the heart of this horrendous genocide in Gaza, we will,” Alcopop! added in a statement.

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While many acts are still set to perform next month, over half of the Great Escape lineup has signed an online petition calling on the festival to drop Barclays as a partner.

"As musicians, we are calling on the Great Escape to drop Barclays as a partner. Barclays is funding Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians through its financial ties with arms companies that sell weapons to Israel," the petition reads.

"A bank that is involved in Israel’s genocide has no place at the Great Escape, which is a fixture of the independent music scene and has a prized place in the industry. We refuse to let music be used to whitewash human rights violations. We cannot let our creative outputs become smokescreens behind which money is pumped into murdering Palestinians."

"Israel continues to defy international law, ignore the United Nations calls for a ceasefire and block aid from reaching Palestinians in Gaza, including by killing aid workers. We cannot be silent. We will not be complicit in the Great Escape being a branding opportunity for Barclays."

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The bill for the Great Escape 2024 still includes Faye Webster, Lauren Mayberry, Fabiana Palladino, King Hannah, Sinkane, Cut Worms, Lip Critic, En Attendant Anna, Frost Children, Nightbus, Sen Morimoto, the Dare, and a whole lot more, although it wouldn't be surprising if artists continue to drop out.

We saw something similar happen with SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this year. Dozens of artists pulled out of SXSW due to the festival's ties to defense contractors who have supplied arms to Israel and the U.S. Army, which served as a main sponsor for the event. While Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott slammed the protesting musicians, the festival itself issued a statement saying that they "fully respect" the decision to boycott.

"We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints," SXSW organizers wrote. "Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech. Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.

"The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives. The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regard to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing work. We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice."


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