130 artists set to perform at The Great Escape Festival 2024 pull out over Barclays Boycott

A quarter of the artists slated to perform at the annual Brighton event have since announced their decision to step back from the festival by the date it was supposed to commence (15 May 2024). This action follows the circulation of a petition in April urging The Great Escape to reconsider its sponsorship ties with Barclays Bank. The bank has been the focus of Bands Boycott Barclays, an online campaign taking cues from the 90s Artists Against Apartheid movement that tackled global investment in apartheid in South Africa, that is currently campaigning for music festivals to divest from sponsors that are invested in Israel. Barclays is currently included in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, with allegations of financial connections to nine companies involved in producing weapons and military technology used in the IDF’s ongoing military assault on the Palestinian civilian population.


Bands Boycott Barclays is coordinating the petition, which has been signed by over half the acts on The Great Escape’s line-up and supported by a further 1000 musicians and industry professionals. 


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




SOFT PLAY, Warmduscher, and Alien Chicks are among the latest wave of artists to pull out of their scheduled appearances at the festival. Alfie Templeman, one of the most established artists due to play at this year’s event, confirmed via social media that he would not perform. 


Massive Attack, Idles and Brian Eno were among dozens of high-profile artists who were not booked to play at The Great Escape festival but signed an open letter launched in April calling for it to drop Barclays as a partner. 



A spokesperson for Bands Boycott Barclays shared: Barclays is bankrolling the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and then laundering its reputation by partnering with music festivals like the Great Escape. As musicians, we think that’s despicable.”


See some of the posts from artists regarding their decision to pull out The Great Escape 2024 below.





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A post shared by SOFT PLAY (@softplayplaysoft)



The Great Escape has not at the time of writing responded to the petition. However, NME contacted Barclays for a statement, who pointed them to their Online Q&A ahead of their upcoming AGM and said that they would not be making further comments. A section of the Q&A addresses Barclays financing and investing in arms manufacturers supplying weapons used by Israel in Gaza. A part of the statement reads: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. 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.” Read the rest of the statement, hyperlinked above.


The Great Escape has become a key part of the UK’s music calendar since its inception in 2006, with about 500 artists performing in various locations around Brighton. Anna Calvi, Stormzy and Kae Tempest have all launched their careers at the event, but this year it has become a spotlight for divisions over the humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding in Gaza over the last eight months. In a move similar to The Great Escape walkout, many artists refused to play at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in March because of the event’s connections to the US Army and weapons companies with financial ties to the IDF. As public figures continue to take a stand in solidarity with Gaza and call for others to do the same, boycotts like these are beginning to gain traction and disrupt established events in the entertainment industry. Notably, Barclays Bank sponsors several UK festivals, including The Great Escape, Latitude and Isle of Wight


Featured Image: Massive Attack, one of the high-profile bands backing the boycott.

Image Credit: Everynight Images/Alamy