Latitude Festival severs ties with Barclaycard | Sponsorship deal ends after artists' boycott

Latitude Festival severs ties with Barclaycard

Sponsorship deal ends after artists' boycott

Latitude and Barclaycard have dropped their sponsorship arrangement following a backlash from comedians and musicians.

Stand-ups Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell,  Alexandra Haddow and sketch group Pappy’s were among those who had pulled out of the festival over the links – along with musicians CMAT,  Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu, Thumper and Georgia Ruth.

Activists say Barclays profits from weapons used in Israel’s war on Gaza and have called for boycotts of events involving the bank.

And today Barclaycard branding has vanished from the website of Latitude, which will run in Henham Park, Suffolk, from July 25 to 28, as the links have been severed. 

In a brief statement, a Latitude spokesperson said: 'Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of Latitude Festival.'

When announcing her boycott, Duker said: ‘Barclays finances and profits from the production of weaponry used in Israel’s genocide in Gaza… I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence.

She added that: ‘Latitude has been magical for me in the past. Its comedy curation is exceptional and I’ve loved playing the Comedy Arena and I’m touched that the organisers say they look forward to welcoming me back.’

Pappy’s member Matthew Crosby said of their boycott: ‘Barclays is bankrolling Israel's genocidal assault on the Palestinian people through its financial ties with arms companies that sell weapons to Israel. I love the festival dearly, and this decision has not been made lightly, but I cannot ignore the sponsor's ties to this horrific violence.’

Haddow said withdrawing from the  festival is ‘one of the only things I can actively do’ about the war in Gaza. She added:‘I was so looking forward to playing the festival and hope to do so in the future - it always looks like so much fun.’

The Download rock festival had been hit with similar boycotts, and also no longer carries the Barclaycard branding. 

Barclays has said of its links to the arms trade: ‘We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a "shareholder" or "investor" in that sense in relation to these companies.’

Similar protests over the climate emergency has led to book festivals in Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Hay and elsewhere severing their ties with asset management company Baillie Gifford, which has been a major sponsor of the events. 

However there has been some backlash to that campaign, with fears the protests will kill off book festivals with little or no impact on the root causes.  Baillie Gifford  says just two per cent of its investments are in companies linked to fossil fuels.

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Published: 14 Jun 2024

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