Joanne McNally and Alexandra Haddow lead comedians boycotting Latitude 2024 over Barclays sponsorship

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Comedians Joanne McNally and Alexandra Haddow are the latest names who are boycotting Latitude 2024 due to the festival’s sponsorship with Barclays and its ties to Israel.

They are the two leading names when it comes to the comedians who are boycotting this year’s edition of the event, and follow numerous musical acts who are refusing to perform while it is still sponsored by the bank.

Joanne McNally announced her withdrawal from the festival last week, when she shared an update online. She was set to close the comedy tent at Latitude 2024, which will be held at Henham Park in Suffolk between July 25 and 28.

“I’m getting messages today about me performing at Latitude when it’s being sponsored by Barclays,” she began on Instagram (via Goss.ie). “I’m no longer doing Latitude. I was due to close the comedy tent on the Sunday night but I pulled out last week.

“I’m on the old artwork but I haven’t been listed on the site since I pulled out a week ago.”

Fellow comedian Alexandra Haddow has also withdrawn, and taken to social media to explain that the decision comes in solidarity with Palestine.

“I was booked to host the comedy stage on the Sunday at Latitude Festival this year but have decided to pull out due to Barclays being the Official sponsor. They are on the BDS official boycott list and I can’t in good conscience take the fee,” the statement began.

“Barclays have increased their funding to several companies who are facilitating weapons & technology used in the genocide in Palestine since the war started and this is one of the only things I can actively do.”

Haddow continued: “I was so looking forward to playing the festival and hope to do so in the future – it always looks like so much fun. Solidarity with every artist taking a stand despite losing the much needed fee and audiences. Hopefully see you at Latitude in the future.”

Headliners for the 2024 edition include Duran Duran, Kasabian, Keane and London Grammar.

The news that the two comedians would be boycotting Latitude comes just days after Irish singer-songwriter CMAT announced that she had pulled out of the event due to ties to Barclays.

Taking to Instagram, CMAT wrote: “You may or may not be aware, but Latitude’s main sponsor is Barclays bank, who have been revealed to have increased their financing of various companies who are supplying weapons and military technology to Israel.

“Specifically, it has invested over £100 Million into General Dynamics which provides gun systems to the fighter jets which are being used by Israel to bombard Gaza.

“I will not allow my precious work, my music, which I love so much, to get into bed with violence. Myself, and the entire CMAT touring crew who I love so much, refuse to be complicit in genocide.”

She continued: “Let me be clear. There is a genocide happening in Palestine right now. All I can do as a citizen is turn up to as many demonstrations as possible and try to follow the advice of the BDS boycott list as closely as I possibly can.

“This falls under that action. I hope that as many of you reading this as possible will choose to show your solidarity with the Palestinian people in whatever way you can.”

She followed Pillow Queens, who became the first band to boycott this year’s Latitude over its sponsorship with the bank.

Since then, both Mui Zyu and Georgia Ruth became the latest musicians to pull out of the festival for the same reasons.

Zyu shared a statement on her official Instagram account, explaining her decision to boycott Latitude was because Barclays “are continuing to profit from the genocide in Palestine”.

Ruth also took to her Instagram account to explain her decision, adding that she felt “​​inspired by the effective boycott of Hay Festival this week by participating authors, which led directly to Baillie Gifford being dropped as main sponsor.”

“We can make a difference; festivals can make meaningful change. I urge Latitude to cut financial ties with Barclaycard,” she added.

The announcement of the two comedians pulling out of Latitude comes shortly after the major boycott of The Great Escape in Brighton last month, also due to its ties with Barclays. Over 100 acts dropped out of this year’s Great Escape Festival in solidarity with Palestine – constituting approximately a quarter of the full programme.

Speaking to NME about their decision to pull out of The Great Escape, Big Scary Monsters founder Kevin Douch said: “Honestly, for us it was an easy decision. We spoke to our bands and explained our position, asked them what they wanted to do and it was unanimous that we’d all pull out. It’s been awesome seeing so many people getting behind this. There are enough voices now to make Live Nation listen and hopefully remove Barclays as a sponsor.”

In response to artists withdrawing, a Barclays spokesperson shared a statement that read: “We provide vital financial services to US, UK and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies.

Example performs on stage during day three of Latitude Festival 2022Example performs on stage during day three of Latitude Festival 2022. CREDIT: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

“Barclays does not directly invest in these companies. The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations. Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.”

The Great Escape walkout also came after many artists refusing to play at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in March because of the event’s connections to the US Army and weapons companies amid the Israel-Gaza conflict. These included Gruff Rhys, Kneecap, Sprints, Lambrini Girls, Gel, Rachel Chinouriri, Cardinals and NewDad.

SXSW responded to the cancellations in a statement: “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.”

Latitude isn’t the only upcoming festival that has seen boycotts due to connections to Barclays. Last night (June 10) it was reported that Scowl, Speed and Zulu had become the latest bands to pull out of Download 2024 over its partnership with the bank.

The first artist to drop out of the upcoming 2024 edition, which will take place over the weekend, was Leeds hardcore band Pest Control who announced they would be pulling out as they would not “take part in an event whose sponsor profits from facilitating a genocide”.

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