Two acts have pulled out of this summer’s Big Exhibition of the North as a sign of protest at the event of sponsorship by the giant in the defence and BAE Systems.
Singer-songwriter Nadine Shah and ex-Chumbawumba member Boff Whalley is commoners ‘ Choir have removed from the event in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The 11-week arts festival is staged with Â£5m to the North of the government of the Central fund.
BAE has been under scrutiny for the sale of arms to countries like Saudi Arabia.
Shah – who has been appointed to the north is the best performer at an awards ceremony in 2015 – has said she was “disgusted” to hear of the participation of the company.
“[I] refuse to be in any way associated with them,” she wrote on Twitter. “I encourage all artists involved to follow the movement.”
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The commoners ‘ Choir, are due to one of the three choirs making their way through the streets, on the 23rd of June, singing songs composed by Whalley.
But they said on Twitter: “The discovery that BAE Systems are partners in the business makes our participation impossible.”
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A petition asking for the Major Exhibition organisers to refuse BAE sponsorship has been put in place by activist Jill Gibbon.
“The Great Exhibition of the North claims to offer family-friendly festival,” he said. “This is totally in contradiction with its association with BAE Systems.”
BAE Systems describes itself as “a global leader in engineering, innovation, manufacturing and technology,” and employs more than 18,000 people in the north of England.
Its trade with Saudi Arabia was in the spotlight during a court case last year, when activists have called on judges to block the sale of arms by British companies in the country because of its role in the current war in Yemen.
However, the High Court has ruled that the sales were legitimate.
The charity War Child UK has accused the manufacturers of the private sector, including BAE Systems ‘ profiteers, and the death of innocent children.””An important contribution”
In a statement, BAE said that it was to support the Great Exhibition of the North “in the framework of its commitment to address the UK skills shortage by encouraging more young people to consider science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers”.
The Great Exhibition, the organizers have said that such an event was “possible thanks to the support and participation of the public and the private sector, organizations of the same way.”
President Mr. Gary Verity said: “Our collective focus, to work with all of our donors, supporters and contributors, is to make the most of this opportunity to change perceptions of the north of England and to promote the future growth and success.
“Each of our sponsors makes a significant contribution to help us achieve this goal.”
The 80 days of the event’s full line-up was announced Tuesday, and also includes the Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid, poet, Wood Sissay and guitar, the band The Kaiser Chiefs.
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