Artists pull out of Latitude festival over Barclays sponsorship

Pop singer CMAT has dropped out of Latitude Festival in protest over the event’s sponsorship by Barclays Bank.

It comes after more than 100 artists pulled out of The Great Escape festival in Brighton this month, also over Barclays’ involvement.

The bank has been accused by campaign group Bands Boycott Barclays of increasing its investment in arms companies that trade with Israel amid its ongoing war on Gaza.

Artists supporting the campaign say the institution is trying to “artwash” its reputation by sponsoring music events such as Latitude and Isle of Wight festival.

In her statement, CMAT, real name Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, said she had asked Latitude to find another sponsor but it had “been made clear” to her that this would not happen.

“I will not allow my precious work, my music, which I love so much, to get into bed with violence,” said CMAT in a statement on Instagram.

“As such, I am now officially pulling out.”

She apologised to fans who had bought tickets with the intention of seeing her and said she hoped to “make it up to you somehow”.

The Independent has contacted representatives for Latitude for comment.

In a statement on its website, Barclays said that it recognises the “profound human suffering” caused by the “complex and long-running” conflict in Gaza.

The bank said it does not make its own investments but instead provides financial services to businesses “including those in the defence sector”.

This includes companies “that supply defence products to Nato and other allies including Ukraine”.

Barclays sponsors a number of music festivals including Latitude and Isle of Wight (PA Wire)
Barclays sponsors a number of music festivals including Latitude and Isle of Wight (PA Wire)

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do,” the statement said.

“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.

“An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training.

“For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client-driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors.”

Singer Georgia Ruth also pulled out of Latitude last week, telling fans that she was inspired to take a stand by “the effective boycott of Hay Festival” last week over one of its principal sponsors, investment management firm Baillie Gifford.

Singer Charlotte Church, comedian Nish Kumar, economics author Grace Blakeley and Labour MP Dawn Butler pulled out of their engagements at Hay over Baillie Gifford’s alleged links to “the Israeli military”.

Charlotte Church has been a vocal supporter of Palestine (Getty Images)
Charlotte Church has been a vocal supporter of Palestine (Getty Images)

The campaign group Fossil Free Books claims that the company also has links to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as a number of major fossil fuel companies.

Baillie Gifford said the “suggestion that Baillie Gifford is a large investor in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is seriously misleading”.

On Friday, with the festival already under way, Hay’s organisers said they were ending their sponsorship deal with the company.