WEST Belfast rappers Kneecap have had their application for funding from a British government music promotion scheme blocked – because they're Irish republicans.
The group revealed via social media today that their application for assistance from the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) had been knocked back. When we called to find out why, a spokesperson for the Department of Business and Trade said the trio had been refused funding because they are "people that oppose the United Kingdom".
The scheme – a partnership between the British government and industry – supports small- to medium-sized music companies looking to grow their artists' profiles internationally.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch announced £1.6 million in MEGS funding to boost 67 artists from across the UK and support homegrown musical talent at an event in London on Thursday.
Kneecap say that despite their application being approved by the selection board, it was subsequently blocked by the British government.
"We've been informed that our application to the Music Export Growth Scheme was independently approved and signed off by selection board," Kneecap said.
"It was then blocked directly by the British government who overruled the independent selection board.
"We're told that our 2019 'Farewell to the Union' tour poster pissed off the Tories.
KNEECAP STATEMENT— KNEECAP (@KNEECAPCEOL) February 8, 2024
We’ve been blocked from receiving significant music funding because a Tory Minister doesn’t like our art.
F*ck the Tories pic.twitter.com/xWWUdGNj5l
"Once again the British government is trying to silence voices from West Belfast and once again it will fail."
A spokesperson for Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch confirmed to the Andersonstown News that funding for the group was refused because of the band's political outlook
“We fully support freedom of speech," said the spokesperson, "but it’s hardly surprising that we don’t want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself.”