Member Spotlight – Long Division

Dean Freeman, Festival Director at Long Division tells us more about Wakefield’s much-loved music festival.

1. Can you summarise Long Division in just a couple of sentences?

In essence, Long Division is a music and culture festival right in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, taking place in multiple venues over 3 days. But I think it is more than that; it is an event that creates pride in the city, gives a platform to the amazing talent we have and draws audiences from across the country, hugely raising the profile of Wakefield

2. What are you looking forward to the most about Long Division 2016?

This year I am excited about the number of stages we have; 12 across the city. It’s great because we’ve got a mix of traditional performance spaces, like Unity Works and the Theatre Royal, but also places like Neon Workshops and The Art House. It makes the individual shows really interesting and unique, but it also means we have hundreds of people walking the streets between the venues – it creates such a great and friendly atmosphere in the city and I love seeing that.

3. When it comes to Long Division, what are you the most proud of?

This year I am particularly proud of the Crowdfunding campaign back in October which raised £7500. Before that I wasn’t sure if I could do Long Division again. But the overwhelming public support was unbelievable. And off the back of that, we’ve managed to get so many new people and organisations involved. It was a real show of people power and Long Division has always been about celebrating the DIY ethic, so it felt like a justifacation of all we’d done in the previous five years.

4. Why did you choose Wakefield for the Long Division festival?

It’s my home, so there was no choice really. I’m really against some festivals that just roll up into a town, know nothing about it, and are just there to make a quick buck off the local population before disappearing again. People have said before that I should take Long Division to other cities, but that would feel wrong. Long Division works because I am connected to Wakefield and I care about it beyond any financial reward.

5. When did Long Division start and how has it evolved since your very first festival?

The first one was in 2011. I felt that Wakefield needed a music festival that celebrated its bands and drew audiences to Wakefield. That first year was a surprise success and I’ve just grown it since then. We’ve gradually brought in elements outside of music – panel discussions, workshops etc – and gradually built our audiences too. I think people enjoy it because on the one hand it is the same; we book great bands that people love but on the other hand we always mix it up – odd things like using the abandoned Drury Lane Library as a venue, getting The Cribs to play a matinee show for U18s on an afternoon, funding stop motion animation promos. It’s all about celebrating what we have here in Wakefiel

6. Why have you become a Bondholder?

Without realising it at first, with Long Division I was pushing forward with a more co-operative approach to events in the city – using multiple venues and bringing different artists together. I now firmly believe in building partnerships in the city. There is so much worth shouting about in Wakefield but much of it seems to consistently get lost somehow. Bondholders is a great way to stop that happening, and promote what we have.

7. What’s next for Wakefield?

I’m excited about the prospect of Wakefield getting its own BID and how that could be used to restructure / redefine the city centre. Being from the Arts world, I still worry about the fragility of some aspects of the Cultural Economy, but there seems to be a growing focus on co-working which I think is very exciting.

8. Do you know an interesting fact about the district?

Back in 2011, when Long Division started, PRS announced that Wakefield was the UKs third most musical city. This was based upon the percentage of people in each city collecting royalties. I found that really interesting as it showed how hidden our creatively talented people were. I’d love to know what that stat is in 2016….