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LONG DIVISION: “It has come together perfectly”

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They say if you want a job doing ask a busy person. And that’s certainly the case with Dean Freeman.

The founder of Long Division Festival juggles a full time job delivering the national citizens programme for young people in Wakefield and Leeds with the pressures of being a new dad and the sleepless nights it brings.

Sleep though is possibly the last thing on his mind as Long Division returns after a year’s break, bigger and better and with substantial support from city businesses through Wakefield BID (and the Arts Council).

It clearly identified the benefits of the festival and the positive image it reflects of the city.

“In 2016 there were more people from outside Wakefield at the festival than from the city itself,” said Dean.

“I wondered why people from Wakefield were not coming. I thought if I could make aspects of the festival free to attend I could change that and Wakefield BID has been able to financially support our core cost which means the majority is now free.

“From my point of view I get more local people at the festival and from their point of view it drives footfall. So it really is a good partnership.”

Long Division has come a long way since it began in 2011. As of December it became a business in its own right - Long Division CIC - with a core team of eight including Dean - an eclectic mix of personel that has helped to deliver a more diverse festival.

All genres of music and arts are on show at a multitude of venues from spoken word artists, creators, poets, artists - 13 separate arts projects have been funded - and musicians and bands.

“Theoretically wherever you go you get to see something or get involved in something,” said Dean.

Much has changed since 2016 when some people wondered if the event would come back.

“I spent a fair part of the year off planning. It has come together perfectly which is rare, so I am pretty pleased ... definitely.”

l Dean has said he is hugely excited about this year’s Long Division - more tickets than ever have been sold and festival goers can choose from 120 performances in over 30 different venues across the city centre.

“I hope it is a year that lots of people take a chance on Long Division,” he said.

Here’s his top five recommendations for the weekend.

1. BILLY BRAGG AT WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL

Our Saturday night headline show will be epic and wonderful. Obviously the venue is spectacular enough, but we’re really pleased to be bringing Billy Bragg to Wakefield, with his rich history and huge back catalogue. He’s really engaged with what Long Division is trying to achieve this year which is great.

2. BBC INTRODUCING STAGE

From 11:30am until 4pm on Saturday a BBC Introducing Stage will run on Wakefield Precinct. It’s certainly a first to bring the BBC to the city in this form, and the stage itself has a great variety of emerging artists, including local bands Mi Mye and Adore//Repel. It’s completely free to attend.

3. ELIZABETHAN GALLERY

The Gallery is in Trinity Walk on Brook Street and from midday until 4pm it’ll be full of creative workshops, things like building instruments from junk or printing your own Tote bags. It’s very much aimed at young families and is completely free to get involved in.

4. HIDDEN PLACES

Tickets for Long Division had the names “Explorer” and “Pioneer” this year and for good reason - we want people to explore and see the city in new ways. I recommend people grab a map and get exploring. For example, we commissioned a poet to write new poems based in the cafes of the city, and another commission will see Neon artworks inspired by the stories from the city’s homeless take residency in empty shops. Get exploring!

5. THE MAGIC OF THE BEATLES

On Sunday, the precinct stage will be taken over by The Magic Of The Beatles, one of the country’s best Beatles shows. Usually this show costs around £15 but with Wakefield BID support we’ve made it completely free. It starts at 5.30pm and is a family friendly way to round off a great weekend.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Long Division’s big day is Saturday June 2. The majority of the festival is free or if you want complete access, including the headliners, tickets are £25. Attendees are encouraged to at least sign up for a free wristband (collectible from Wakefield One, opposite Westgate Train Station) as this will also give you access to money-off deals at business across town over the weekend.

The Magic Of The Beatles requires no ticket or wristband. The show starts at 5.30pm.

More information on the artists and venues is available at www.longdivisionfestival.co.uk