Ithaca Withdraws from Download Festival Over Sponsor’s Israeli Connections

Ithaca Withdraws from Download Festival Over Sponsor’s Israeli Connections

British metalcore band Ithaca has announced its withdrawal from the Download Festival, joining a growing list of artists boycotting the event due to its association with Barclays Bank. The bank has been criticized for its financial ties to companies supplying arms to Israel, which are used in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Ithaca’s decision follows similar moves by other bands, including Pest Control, Scowl, Speed, and Zulu, who have all cited Barclays’ involvement in the war as their reason for pulling out.

Ithaca shared their decision on social media, stating, “We will no longer be playing Download Festival. While we hate letting anyone down, this moment of solidarity sends a powerful message to the organizers about where the younger generation of bands stand. Free Palestine.” The band emphasized the importance of standing by their principles and the values of the music scene they represent.

The boycott, part of the Bands Boycott Barclays campaign, aims to pressure the festival to sever ties with Barclays. The campaign is supported by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, which targets companies and institutions that are seen as complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Bands Boycott Barclays has called on artists, promoters, and fans to join the boycott, stating, “We will not allow a company bankrolling genocide to sanitize its brand through music festivals.”

Pest Control was the first band to announce their withdrawal, explaining on Instagram that they could not participate in an event sponsored by a company profiting from what they described as genocide. They expressed regret for disappointing fans but stressed the importance of adhering to their principles. Following their announcement, Split Chain was named as their replacement and pledged to donate their fee to Palestinian relief organizations.

Other bands quickly followed suit. Scowl, Speed, and Zulu all announced their withdrawal, citing similar reasons. Scowl declared, “We will not be playing Download fest this year due to Barclays Bank sponsorship of the event and Barclays’ connection to Israel and the genocide Israel is committing in Palestine. Free Palestine!” Speed and Zulu echoed these sentiments, emphasizing their refusal to be complicit in what they see as human rights violations.

Negative Frame and Overpower, who were scheduled to perform on the Courtyard Stage, also pulled out of the festival. The bands’ decisions have sparked a broader conversation about the role of corporate sponsorship in the music industry and the ethical responsibilities of artists.

Barclays has responded to the criticism by clarifying its position on its website. The bank stated that it does not directly invest in arms manufacturers but may hold shares in such companies as part of client-driven transactions. Barclays emphasized that it would cease any relationship with businesses involved in the production of cluster bombs or other controversial weapons.

Despite Barclays’ response, the boycott has gained significant traction. The Bands Boycott Barclays campaign has highlighted the power of artists to influence cultural and political discourse. The campaign draws inspiration from historical movements such as Artists Against Apartheid, which played a crucial role in ending apartheid in South Africa. By leveraging their cultural influence, the bands hope to pressure festivals and other institutions to reconsider their associations with companies involved in human rights violations.

The Download Festival has yet to issue a public response to the boycott. The festival, known for its diverse lineup of rock and metal bands, faces increasing pressure to address the concerns raised by the artists. The situation underscores the growing intersection of music, politics, and social justice, as artists use their platforms to advocate for change.

As the boycott continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how the Download Festival and its organizers will respond. The actions of Ithaca and other bands have set a precedent for future events, highlighting the potential for collective action to drive meaningful change in the industry. The boycott serves as a reminder of the power of solidarity and the importance of standing up for one’s principles, even in the face of significant challenges.

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