The Latitude Festival announced Barclaycard as its headline sponsor this year. A quick browse of its website shows the company’s name splattered everywhere. However, some artists due to perform at the festival are not having it – and have cancelled their appearances. This is because Barclays itself is a serial abuser of people and planet – not least, indirectly supporting apartheid Israel in its violent colonialism against the Palestinian people.
Barclays: propping up apartheid Israel
Barclays is a prominent funder of arms companies which profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. As the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said in a press release:
Research published by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign Against Arms Trade, and War on Want last year has identified that Barclays holds over £1 billion in shares and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to 9 companies whose weapons, components, and military technology have been used in Israel’s armed violence against Palestinians. This year, over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in military invasions, assassinations and bombing campaigns. Barclays has faced ongoing protests over these financial ties, with campaigners calling on the bank to ‘Stop Banking on Apartheid’.
Moreover, since 2015 Barclays has financed more than $150 billion in fossil fuel extraction, making it the largest such financier in Europe. A range of climate justice groups have called on the bank to immediately end these ties.
The Canary has documented Barclays many crimes against people and planet. From its support for fracking, to oil pipelines, via investing in union-busting companies, and the not-small matter of its former boss’s ties to child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein – Barclays is one of the most notorious corporations on the planet.
However, Latitude Festival has seen fit to get Barclays to be its main sponsor. Other corporate partners this year include union-busting and deforestation-supporting Starbucks; palm oil ecocide-enablers Pepsi, and likely tax avoiders Bacardi.
So, the How To Catch A Pig (HTCAP) collective has taken the decision to withdraw from the festival.
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How To Catch A Pig
HTCAP is an artists, activists, and organisers collective, fronted by Liv Wynter. They are a trans and working class grassroots organiser and performer based in London. They create live art, sometimes alone but more often with bands and collectives. Wynter’s sellout night, HTCAP, is a celebration of creatives who also organise against the state with a focus on queer and trans performers.
They spent 2022 touring stadiums with Queer House Party, playing Secret Garden Party, Boomtown, Wilderness, Latitude, and Sziget – and being banned from the Southbank Centre. They are currently in residence at the Museum of Homelessness.
The collective holds nights across the country, focusing on political and social art, spoken word, and music. For example, in their current work with the Museum of Homelessness, they’ve organised a workshop for “riotstarters” on 28 July. Latitude would have been an important gig for HTCAP. However, it, and the 20 artists involved, have now pulled out due to Barclays’ involvement.
Latitude: the moral compass appears to have malfunctioned
HTCAP is a collective of activists and organisers as well as artists, and we are sad and angry that Latitude has decided to partner with Barclays for the next 5 years. We encourage all artists who are able to, to reconsider playing Latitude, and to commit to not working with Barclays, who finance major arms companies and fossil fuel companies and projects who invest in Israeli apartheid. As creatives we cannot be turn a blind eye to how our industry is used to legitimise and disguise these issues – we must speak up, speak out, and boycott!
Director of PSC Ben Jamal said:
We welcome the principled stance of artists withdrawing from Latitude over Barclays sponsorship of the festival. This adds to the body of pressure being applied to Barclays to end its support for Israel’s apartheid regime, and its financing of the climate crisis.
Allegedly, Latitude used to have a reputation for, to quote the website Music Gateway:
its commitment to the environment and sustainability. They launched initiatives, such as the Love Thy Planet campaign, to promote eco-friendly practices and raise awareness about environmental issues.
You could say it was also always a bit left wing – not afraid to feature political and social artists (like HTCAP). However, the festival is actually run by US events monolith Live Nation’s UK arm. Little wonder, then, that Barclays is actually centre stage.
So, clearly, money talks – and Latitude’s organisers happily teaming up with Barclays, as well as the rest of the corporates on its partner roster, says a lot their own moral compass – or distinct lack of it.
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