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Cherym pull out of The Great Escape Festival due to its links with Barclays bank

Cherym have announced that they have pulled out of playing The Great Escape this year, due to the festival’s connection with Barclays bank.

The Derry punk band shared a statement on social media outlining their reasoning, highlighting the bank’s financial investment in companies that supply arms to Israel.

“We have made the decision to pull out of The Great Escape Festival next month,” the statement reads.

“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.”

NME has contacted The Great Escape for a response to the band’s decision.

The band go on to share a petition that was 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. The petition can be found here.

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 Mentrual Cramps have also pulled out of playing The Great Escape, as have bands including Orchards and Other Half. The labels Alcopop! Records and Big Scary Monsters have also shared their decision to pull out of the festival, stating: “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.”

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.”

Cherym released their debut album ‘Take It Or Leave It’ in February. In a four-star review, NME wrote: “‘Take It Or Leave It’ is as much of a blast to listen to as it is a clear look at the world around us. This is who Cherym are and what they stand for – and these songs make their mission statement of joy and unity hard to forget.”

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