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Whitburn singer songwriter pulls out of Great Exhibition of the North over sponsor's involvement

Nadine Shah will no longer be taking part in the Great Exhibition of the North.
Nadine Shah will no longer be taking part in the Great Exhibition of the North.

An artist lined up to perform as part of the Great Exhibition of the North has said she will no longer appear after discovering a defence firm is among its sponsors.

Nadine Shah, from Whitburn, had been set to play the event as part of Lauren Laverne's Great Northern Soundtrack.

She had previously said she was "totally honoured" after it was revealed she would be playing the Sage Gateshead on June 24.

However, she has confirmed she will no longer be involved in the event after she found out defence, security and aerospace company BAE Systems is a backer of the festival, which is due to run from June to September at venues across Newcastle and Gateshead.

In a statement posted on Twitter via @nadineshah, she said: "I will no longer be playing the @getnorth2018 festival now that I have discovered BAE Systems are a sponsor.

"I am disgusted to hear of their involvement and refuse to be in any way associated with them.

Broadcaster Lauren Laverne is organising the Great Northern Soundtrack as part of the event, but has said discussions are ongoing about how to move forward in relation to BAE Systems and its backing of the festival.

Broadcaster Lauren Laverne is organising the Great Northern Soundtrack as part of the event, but has said discussions are ongoing about how to move forward in relation to BAE Systems and its backing of the festival.

"I encourage all artists involved to follow suit."

She also told followers that her issue is with the festival, not the other artists, venues and guests also due to appear, adding: "Like me they too were completely unaware."

Nadine is still listed among the acts to perform on the exhibition's website, but tickets are no longer available via the Sage's pages.

Former Chumbawamba member Boff Whalley's Commoners' Choir have also withdrawn from the programme.

The Great Exhibition of the North is billed as "free, summer-long celebration of the North of Englands pioneering spirit" but has caused controversy after signing up BAE Systems as a sponsor.

The Great Exhibition of the North is billed as "free, summer-long celebration of the North of Englands pioneering spirit" but has caused controversy after signing up BAE Systems as a sponsor.

A petition titled Tell the Great Exhibition of the North to Refuse BAE sponsorship has been signed by more than 1,700 names.

Sunderland-born Lauren is curating a week of gigs to showcase music from the region, with presentations, talks and exhibitions also due to be held to celebrate music from "Newcastle to Manchester and Sunderland to Sheffield."

She also released a statement via social media, which said: "I am working with the team at @Sage_Gateshead in the hope of finding a solution that will allow our shows to go ahead. Please bear with us while we go through this process. Thank you.

"I was made aware of the sponsorship of @getnorth2018 by BAE systems on Wednesday night.

"While Sage Gateshead’s programme is not funded by BAE, their involvement in the broader festival has raised questions for many of the artists on the lineup we have been developing, and for me.

"I am working with the team at @Sage_Gateshead in the hope of finding a solution that will allow our shows to go ahead. Please bear with us while we go through this proces

"Thank you."

Sunderland's Pop Recs has been among those to raise concerns about the company's involvement in the festival, calling the decision "completely inappropriate" and encouraging people to voice their opposition to its sponsorship.

In a joint statement Abigail Pogson, managing director, Sage Gateshead and Sarah Munro, director of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, said: "Sage Gateshead and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art acknowledge the concerns raised by artists, members of the artistic community and our partners in connection to the sponsorship of Great Exhibition of the North.

"We wish to reassure our artists, partners and stakeholders that Arts Council England are supporting the delivery of our artistic content, including the concerts, exhibitions and offsite commissions presented by Sage Gateshead and Baltic.

"We are not in receipt of funds from BAESystems.

"Our conversations and commissions with artists and partners began some months and years ago, well in advance of the announcement of BAE Systems as a Premier Partner of the Great Exhibition of the North.”

Sir Gary Verity, chairman of the exhibition, said: "The Great Exhibition of the North is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring together our region's inventors, engineers, artists, designers and makers to celebrate the technological innovation, art, design and culture of the North.

"Delivering an event of this scale is only possible thanks to the support and participation of public and private sector organisations alike.

"Our collective focus working with all of our funders, supporters and contributors is to make the very most of this opportunity to change perceptions of the North of England and driver future growth and success.

"Each of our sponsors make an important contribution to helping us achieve this aim.

"BAE Systems employs more than 18,000 people in the North of England and is a world leader in engineering innovation, manufacturing and technology.

"BAE Systems is supporting the Great Exhibition of the North as part of its commitment to address the UK skills shortage by encouraging more young people to consider science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

"Organisations such as Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Found meanwhile are supporting the delivery of our artistic content, including the walking trails and commissions, concerts and exhibitions at Baltic and Sage Gateshead."

BAE Systems has reiterated the comment setting out its number of employees in the region and its role as a developer of of engineering, manufacturing and technology.

It has also said it is backing the exhibition "as part of its commitment to address the UK skills shortage by encouraging more young people to consider (STEM) careers.”