Image credit: Antoine J

Just one year after signing on to a contract with Live Nation to sponsor their festivals, Barclays have been pushed back out by protesters.

Last year, Barclays signed into a five year brand partnership with Live Nation to sponsor their extensive list of UK festivals. Since the partnership began, artists involved in Live Nation’s events have been speaking out against Barclays. That has reached an untenable head which has led to Barclays ending their partnership with Live Nation.

It began with controversy over Barclays investment in fossil fuels. The famously vocal musical sector spoke against Live Nation teaming up with a bank with ties to fossil fuels. The controversy ramped up to an extreme this year because of the bank’s investments in the arms industry. This reportedly includes financial services for companies that have supplied weapons to Israel.

Protests turned into artists pulling out of their commitments to festivals. Brighton’s The Great Escape saw a shocking number of abandonments, with over 100 acts who had been booked to play at the festival pulling out. This week’s Download festival was also impacted by artist pull outs. In light of the backlash, Live Nation wrote: “Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals.”

Barclays themselves, with no sense of passive aggression, wrote: “Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. They added: “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.”

The artists, however, feel triumphant. Protest group Bands Boycott Barclays have been helping to lead the campaign of activism that has resulted in bands pulling out of festival line-ups. They wrote: “Our demand to Barclays is simple: Divest from the genocide of face further boycotts. Boycotting Barclays, also Europe’s primary funder of fossil fuels, is the minimum we can do to call for change.”

They added: “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. 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 ending of Barclay’s sponsorship on these festivals raises the question of who Live Nation will go to. Many events rely on funding and sponsorship from large partnerships to run. Barclays confirmed that their customers who have tickets to Live Nation festivals in 2024 won’t be affected and their tickets are still valid.