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Alcopop and Big Scary Monsters record labels join The Great Escape boycott over Barclaycard sponsorship in solidarity with Gaza

Two record labels, Alcopop! and Big Scary Monsters, have confirmed they are joining the boycott of The Great Escape over its ties to Barclays bank.

The Brighton-based festival is sponsored by the bank, which has been a source of controversy amid the current events in Gaza because of its financial investment in companies that supply arms to Israel.

The issue was first highlighted by a petition started by the promoter How to Catch a Pig and the band The Menstrual Cramps, and has since been signed by artists including Kneecap, Lambrini Girls, Alfie Templeman, Lip Critic, Wunderhorse and Mary in the Junkyard who have urged the festival to drop Barclays as a sponsor. Altogether, 208 of the 440 bands who had originally been booked for the line-up have signed the petition, which has 977 signees in total.

It reads: “A bank that is involved in Israel’s genocide has no place at The Great Escape, which is a fixture of the independent music scene and has a prized place in the industry. We refuse to let music be used to whitewash human rights violations. We cannot let our creative outputs become smokescreens behind which money is pumped into murdering Palestinians.” The petition can be found here.

Now, Alcopop! and Big Scary Monsters have confirmed they will no longer be associated with The Great Escape. “To be associating with Barclays doesn’t sit right with our ethical standpoint, and if we can do anything to help raise awareness, and ultimately highlight the corporate greed at the heart of this horrendous genocide in Gaza, we will,” Alcopop! said in a statement.

Big Scary Monsters confirmed that they had pulled their showcase with Alcopop!, sharing a link to the petition and re-iterating calls for The Great Escape to cut ties with Barclays. The bands who were supposed to play the showcase including The Menstrual Cramps, Orchards and Other Half, have all pulled out.

Numerous other acts have also dropped out, including Cherym, who said in a statement: “Barclays/Barclaycard are responsible for investing over £1bn+ into companies that are arming the IDF and providing weaponry that enables the ongoing atrocities against Palestinians to continue.”

“Due to The Great Escape’s connection with Barclays/Barclaycard, we feel in good conscience, that we cannot go ahead with our scheduled performances at The Great Escape. We have been told by The Great Escape that the festival has no affiliation with Barclays/Barclaycard directly this year, but due to the refusal to remove them as a sponsor from their advertising we simply cannot take part.”

Meanwhile, Rett Madison also confirmed she would be dropping out: “In support of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I am joining the boycott of Barclays and withdrawing my performance at The Great Escape Festival this May.”

NME has contacted The Great Escape for comment.

The move comes a month after swathes of artists refused to play Austin’s SXSW Festival, due to its connections with the US Army and weapons companies amid the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Gruff Rhys, Kneecap, Sprints, Lambrini Girls, Gel, Rachel Chinouriri, Cardinals and NewDad all eventually pulled out from SXSW, as well as every Irish act on the bill. Many of the artists expressed that they had made the decision out of solidarity with the people of Palestine.

In light of the withdrawals, SXSW released a statement regarding all of the bands and artists who have been pulling out of the festival, saying: “We are an organisation that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

Explaining its sponsorship with the US Army, SXSW wrote: “The defence industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.”

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