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Over 163 acts pulled out of a Barclays sponsored music festival in Brighton. Artists are now beginning to drop out of Latitude and Download, both Barclays-sponsored festivals. A major dance theatre, Sadler’s Wells, is facing pressure from hundreds of culture workers and had a show interrupted, with demands to drop Barclays as their sponsor. What do these all have in common?

Why are Barclays’ major sponsorships all facing trouble?

It’s because Barclays aren’t just feeding billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry and misleading investors on it. Barclays is funding Israeli arms companies to continue violating human rights, targeting civilians, and killing children (14,000 and counting). And music festivals and dance theatres are kicking back against their sponsor.

Barclays is holding over £2 billion in shares and providing £6.1 billion in loans & underwriting to 9 companies whose weapons, components, and military technology are being used by Israel in its attacks on Palestinians. This includes £100 million to General Dynamics, which produces the fighter jets dropping bombs on Gazan refugee camps. Plus further financing to Elbit Systems to continue their use of cluster munitions and drone attacks on civilians. In fact, Barclays is actually tightening its relationships to these companies, rather than distancing itself.

Campaigners have continually asked Barclays to stop funding war crimes, but Barclays are turning a blind eye and claiming ignorance, whilst continuing to fund the destruction. This is why those choosing to take Barclays’ money through sponsorships are facing the pressure instead, and why Barclays is facing direct escalation too:

What’s Barclays’ defence?

Barclays have issued a response to this:

“We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a “shareholder” or “investor” in that sense in relation to these companies.”

This response is fundamentally flawed. It refers to the £2 billion in shares. And it conveniently ignores the £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting, over which Barclays have direct involvement. Barclays has been made aware of this and hasn’t answered. 

Barclays also says:

“We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.”

This is also wrong. It’s not “campaigners” that claim it makes cluster bombs. Norway’s largest pension fund KLP has actually excluded Elbit on the basis that it produces cluster munitions and for its “connection with the violation of fundamental ethical norms.” In a position paper (p.9) they state that “it is clear that the company produces cluster munitions.” In 2017, the Israeli military upgraded its artillery system, and reportedly selected Elbit Systems to do so over European manufacturers, precisely because it could manufacture cannons to fire cluster munitions. Elbit Systems weapons and military technology are routinely used in Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

Barclays has also been made aware of this and is again refusing to answer.

So what happens now?

Until Barclays stops trying to cover up the devastation it’s feeding: the displacement of millions, the starvation of families and most heinously, the killing of children, Barclays will continue to be pulled into the limelight in more public ways. Artists will continue to drop out of festivals. HQs will continue to be targeted. Barclays AGMs will continue to be disrupted. Barclays’ major sponsorships will again be a focal point of the pressure, especially Wimbledon, just like last year. And it won’t stop, until Barclays backs down. 

PS. If you thought Barclays only funded devastation in Gaza, think again. Barclays is Europe’s biggest funder of the fossil fuel industry, including Shell and Exxon, which are chopping down forests, drilling ocean floors around the world, and even committing financial fraud – all with Barclays’ blessing. Learn more here: https://bankonourfuture.org/all-news/news/