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Soft Play – FKA Slaves – drop out of The Great Escape 2024: “We do not support genocide”

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Soft Play – FKA Slaves – have dropped out of the Great Escape Festival in solidarity with Palestine.

The 2024 edition of the event – which showcases new and rising artists – is currently being held across various music venues in Brighton until Saturday (May 18).

The Great Escape is sponsored by Barclays, which has been a source of controversy amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza because of the bank’s financial investment in companies that supply arms to Israel with over 35,000 Palestinians killed since the October 7 attacks. Over 100 acts have now dropped out of this year’s event with Soft Play, who were due to perform at The Paris House on Saturday, becoming the latest.

Posting on Instagram, they wrote: “We will not be playing at the great escape this weekend. We do not support genocide. We stand with the people of Palestine and support the BDS movement. Apologies to everyone who got tickets to see us. Isaac and Laurie.”

All proceeds from merchandise at that gig were set to go towards charities for Palestinian relief.

The issue was first highlighted in a petition started by the promoter How To Catch A Pig and the band The Menstrual Cramps – which has since been signed by musicians including KneecapLambrini GirlsAlfie TemplemanLip CriticWunderhorse and Mary In The Junkyard.

Last month, Cherym pulled out of The Great Escape as a result of the festival’s connection to Barclays, before record labels Alcopop and Big Scary Monsters joined the boycott and withdrew from the event.

Dozens more acts soon followed suit, with over half the line-up demanding that The Great Escape drop its sponsorship deal with Barclays.

Over 1,200 artists including IDLES, Squid and Massive Attack have also signed an open letter addressed to The Great Escape, asking them to remove Barclays as a sponsor. “Israel continues to defy international law, ignore the United Nations calls for a ceasefire and block aid from reaching Palestinians in Gaza, including by killing aid workers. We cannot be silent. We will not be complicit in The Great Escape being a branding opportunity for Barclays,” it read.

The Great Escape has yet to comment on the Bands Boycott Barclays movement, while Barclays have directed criticisms to a response made during a recent Q&A session. “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do,” said Barclays. “As a bank, our job is to provide financial services to thousands of business clients and that includes those in the defence sector.”

In a move similar to the Great Escape walkout, many artists refused 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 RhysKneecap, Sprints, Lambrini Girls, GelRachel ChinouririCardinals and NewDad.

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