Barclays Suspends Funding of Live Nation U.K. Festivals After Protests Over Links to Defense Firms

Barclays Suspends Funding of Live Nation U.K. Festivals After Protests Over Links to Defense Firms

Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of Live Nation’s U.K. festivals following protests from artists over the bank’s links to defense companies supplying arms to Israel as well as fossil fuel firms.

Country singer CMAT, folk group Lankum and rock bands Pest Control, Zulu, Scowl, Speed and Ithaca are among the acts who have either pulled out of or threatened to boycott Live Nation-promoted summer events, including July’s Latitude festival and the three-day Download festival, which starts Friday (June 14) in Donington Park, Leicestershire.


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In a statement on Friday, a spokesperson for Live Nation U.K. said, “Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals.”

Confirming the news, a spokesperson for Barclays told Billboard that the London-headquartered bank “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 spokesperson continued. “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.”

Referencing recent outbreaks of vandalism at a number of U.K. Barclays bank branches, where protestors threw paint and smashed windows, the spokesperson said 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.”

Barclays is one of the biggest sponsors of music festivals in the United Kingdom and signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Live Nation last year. Over the past two decades, the company says it has invested £112 million ($142 million) in supporting British music and the country’s arts sector.

Pressure from pro-Palestinian groups on music festivals and arts organizations to cut ties with sponsors with perceived links to Israel has been building since the start of the conflict in Gaza. Last month, more than 150 artists withdrew from Brighton’s Great Escape Festival over the independent event’s ties to Barclays.

Defending its position, Barclays has previously stated that it provides “vital financial services to U.S., U.K. and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies” but does not directly invest in these companies.

The news that the international bank, which has also drawn heavy criticism from environmental campaigners for bankrolling fossil fuel firms, was pulling out of sponsoring Live Nation’s U.K. festivals was welcomed by campaign group Bands Boycott Barclays.  

“As musicians, we were horrified that our music festivals were partnered with Barclays, who are complicit in the genocide in Gaza through investment, loans and underwriting of arms companies supplying the Israeli military,” posted the campaign group on Instagram.

“Hundreds of artists have taken action this summer to make it clear that this is morally reprehensible, and we are glad we have been heard,” the group added.

Posting on X, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, who is due to play Download this weekend, said that “the fact that the festival 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,” added Morello, “and I salute all the artists like Zulu, Scowl and Speed who have taken a stand to help make this historic withdrawal happen.”