Barclays suspends UK festivals sponsorship after backlash over Israel links

Barclays suspends UK festivals sponsorship after backlash over Israel links
Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of UK festivals after backlash over its links to defence companies supplying Israel as it wages war on Gaza.
2 min read
Pro-Palestine protesters have targeted Barclays due to its links to companies supplying arms to Israel [Getty]

Barclays said Friday it has suspended its sponsorship of several leading UK music festivals, after an artists-led backlash at the bank's provision of financial services to defence companies supplying Israel.

The British bank revealed it had been asked by US entertainment giant Live Nation to "suspend participation" in its remaining 2024 festivals, which include this weekend's Download event in central England.

Other high-profile festivals impacted include the Isle of Wight Festival later this month -- set to be headlined by Green Day, The Pet Shop Boys and The Prodigy -- and July's Latitude Festival.

Barclaycard's branding had reportedly disappeared Friday from the events' websites.

It comes after protests and boycott threats from bands and fans over Barclay's links to defence firms which supply Israel, leading to accusations the bank was "complicit in the genocide in Gaza".

Several bands, including crossover thrash metal outfit Pest Control, had already announced they were pulling out of Download and staging a benefit concert for Palestinians instead.

Live Nation said only: "Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals."

A Barclays spokesperson confirmed the move, saying the bank "was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024".

"The protestors' 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," its statement added.

It noted that Barclays bank branches have been repeatedly vandalised and staff intimidated, in incidents which pro-Palestinian activists have claimed responsibility for.

"The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions," the Barclays spokesperson added.

"It is time that leaders across politics, business, academia and the arts stand united against this."

Bands Boycott Barclays, a collective of musicians and industry professionals which has spearheaded the backlash, hailed the suspension.

It called the move "a historic victory for the Palestinian-led global BDS movement", referring to the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" strategy favoured by some activists,

Launched by Palestinian civil society organisations in 2005, it advocates political and economic action against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.