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    Hay Festival drops Baillie Gifford sponsorship over Israel & fossil fuel links.

    Dan Sheehan

    May 24, 2024, 1:17pm

    Amid mounting pressure from campaigners and withdrawls by scheduled artists, the Hay Festival (one of the UK’s most prominent literary festivals) has dropped investment management firm Baillie Gifford as its principal sponsor over the latter’s ties to Israel and the fossil fuel industry.

    In a brief statement published on the festival’s website and social media channels in the last hour, CEO of Hay Festival Global Julie Finch said the following:

    In light of claims raised by campaigners and intense pressure on artists to withdraw, we have taken the decision to suspend our sponsorship from Baillie Gifford.

    Our first priority is to our audience and our artists. Above all else, we must preserve the freedom of our stages and spaces for open debate and discussion, where audiences can hear a range of perspectives.

    Hay Festival Global is a charity. We are grateful to all those artists, partners and audiences who engage and contribute to the conversation, on stage and off.

    We look forward to welcoming you this fortnight, in person and online.


    Over 700 writers—including Naomi Klein, Sally Rooney, Natalie Diaz, and Robert Macfarlane—have now signed a May 15 statement by FFB urging Baillie Gifford (which sponsors a number of UK festivals as well as the prestigious Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction) to cease its investments in the fossil fuel industry and divest from all companies “that profit from Israeli apartheid, occupation and genocide,” stating that “solidarity with Palestine and climate justice are inextricably linked.”

    In response to the FFB statement, a spokesperson from Baillie Gifford said last week that “the suggestion that Baillie Gifford is a large investor in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is seriously misleading” and that “only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels.”

    Today’s decision by the Hay represents a significant victory for the FFB and Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movements in the UK. It now seems likely that more Baillie Gifford-sponsored festivals, such as the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Cheltenham Literature Festival, will follow suit in the coming months. (In response to FFB’s statement and this week’s festival boycotts, Edinburgh released a statement saying that it wants to “work together with Fossil Free Books, and other groups, as we move towards a more sustainable future.”)

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