Has the Great Escape been cancelled? That is cancelled as in “cancel culture”, not as in “not going ahead”. You see, it is currently under fire from most of the acts booked to play. This is regarding its involvement with Barclays Bank. The bank is a major investor in the arms trade and what with the current trouble in the Middle East, that is causing some friction. This has caused bands to protest at the Great Escape.

It all kicked off about a month ago with a petition started by the promoter How to Catch a Pig and the band The Menstrual Cramps. So far 216 bands (almost half the acts) have signed the petition and a lot of bands have started pulling out. These include Cherym, Mui Zyu, Hongza, LVRA, The New Eves, ZHEANI and Brighton’s own Lambrini Girls. This comes after 80 bands pulled out of the big US SXSW festival for similar reasons.

So far the festival has not commented on the affair. They could drop Barclays but then they would have to find a new large sponsor. With only two weeks to go, that looks unlikely. I suspect it would take a lot of bands pulling out to actually make a dent in the festival’s schedules. We can probably expect some demonstrations outside some of the main venues though.

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