Download Festival: Artists pull out over Barclays sponsor links

Multiple artists say they have pulled out of this year’s Download Festival in protest against its links with Barclays.

Thrash metal outfit Pest Control and hardcore punk bands Scowl, Speed and Zulu all posted to announce they would not be performing at the three-day event in Leicestershire.

Barclaycard is listed as the official payment partner for Download and campaigners have accused the bank of increasing its investment in arms companies that trade with Israel during the ongoing war in Gaza.

It has said it doesn’t make its own investments, but that its customers do include businesses in the defence sector.

“We cannot sacrifice the principles held by this band and by the scene we come from and represent, just for personal gain,” Leeds-based Pest Control posted on Instagram.

“We will not take part in an event whose sponsor profits from facilitating a genocide.”

Israel has vehemently rejected accusations that its military offensive in Gaza amounts to a genocide.

The campaign was launched after Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the months since.

The Download acts are the latest artists to pull out of an event due to links with Barclays.

Singer CMAT said she pulled out of the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, where Barclays is a headline sponsor, because she “will not allow my precious work, my music… to get into bed with violence”.

At Brighton’s Great Escape Festival in May, more than 100 artists pulled out over the bank’s involvement.

It’s not the first time Scowl has withdrawn in protest, with the band pulling out of South by Southwest in Texas because of the festival’s sponsorship deal with the US Army.

Rachel Chinouriri, Kneecap and Lambrini Girls were among acts who also pulled out for the same reason.

Download, the UK’s biggest heavy metal and rock focused festival, is due to take place at Donnington Park from 14 to 16 June.

In a statement, Barclays said it does not make its own investments, but provides financial services to businesses “including those in the defence sector”.

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

They added that “Barclays does not directly invest in these companies” and that “decisions on the implementation of arms embargoes to other nations” should be taken by governments.

BBC Newsbeat has contacted Barclays Bank, Download Festival, Pest Control, Scowl, Speed and Zulu for further comment.

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