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More than 100 acts have now dropped out of The Great Escape 2024

The boycott – in solidarity with the people of Palestine – is linked to Barclays' position as an official festival partner

By Nick Reilly

The Great Escape festival takes place in Brighton every May (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

More than 100 acts have now announced they are dropping out of this year’s Great Escape festival in solidarity with the people of Palestine, while Massive Attack say they are supporting the boycott action.

The 2024 edition of the showcase festival – which shines a light on new and emerging talent – will take place in venues across Brighton from tomorrow (May 15) until Saturday (18).

The Brighton-based festival has faced criticism for partnering with Barclays amid the ongoing war in Gaza, after it was revealed that the firm holds investments in companies that supply arms to Israel.

This issue was first highlighted in a petition that was signed by a number of acts set to play the event including Alfie Templeman, Wunderhorse, Lip Critic and Kneecap. Now, it’s been revealed that in excess of 100 acts have now pulled out.

The latest names to have pulled out include the likes of Avije, Beetlebug, Bo Milli, BODUR, Bug teeth, C Turtle, Cryalot, Delilah Bon, Delilah Holliday, Graft, Hang Linton, Jianbo, Kerensa, Lewis G Burton, Message From The Ravens, Pem, Pop Vulture, Projector, Smoke Filled Room, Sophia Ryalls, Steven Bamidele, Sunday Club, The Halfway Kid and Tony Njoku.

Templeman said: “I am no longer performing at The Great Escape festival this year due to their ongoing partnership with Barclays, who are actively funding the Israeli military and therefore being complicit in genocide. My morals cannot and will not align with the amalgamation of entertainment and human suffering.

“Solidarity to everyone else on the lineup that has dropped out and used their platform to direct attention to the boycott. I really hope that together our absence from the festival will make other festivals and events around the world prioritise being ethical when choosing their partners.”

Massive Attack said: “We’ve endless, special respect for younger artists or artists at earlier stages of their careers who choose to take a stand against corporate support for apartheid and now genocide in Palestine.

“It’s extraordinary to think that in 2024, promoters and festivals still don’t understand that as artists, our music is for sale but our humanity and morality is not. The truth is, while the boycott of events sponsored by toxic corporations like Barclays is courageous, the motives behind it are totally uncontroversial: everyone can see what’s happening in Gaza and no one should accept it.”

They added: “Whether it’s apartheid and genocide in Gaza, or the funding of new fossil fuel extraction worldwide, Barclays has repeatedly proven it is without conscience. Barclays therefore has no place in any music festival or any cultural event. Solidarity with and total respect to all musicians who’ve taken this stand.”

In a statement, Barclays said: “First and most importantly, we recognise the profound human suffering caused by this conflict. This is an exceptionally complex and long-running conflict, and we urge governments and the international community to work together to find a lasting, peaceful solution. 

“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.”

It comes after SXSW faced a similar boycott earlier this year, due to the Texas festival’s partnership with the US Army.