#YoungTeam – A Busy Summer!

Our Education Manager Paul Bateson wrote a piece for our 2021 festival programme. We thought we’d share it here as it sums up what a busy Summer our Education department has had:

At Long Division we believe a strong music scene is a sign of a healthy city. Culture, community, and music are the root note of everything we do.

And so, a few weeks before the 10th Long Division Festival I’m thinking back to myself and Dean
Freeman (LD festival founder and Director), and our journey in music in Wakefield. Local lads born and bred here. Making homemade radio shows in our bedrooms on cassette recorders, getting our first guitars; going to a local open mic night; then running our own DIY gigs in pubs; eventually organising a weekend long music festival in our own city centre. I’m thinking back to that first year when I said ‘yes’ to helping make the first Long Division happen, and being part of it as a volunteer, to now, when I am an employee, and I wonder –

Where are the gig goers and band makers and organisers of the future? Where are all the kids in
bands? Where’s the new music? The Wakefield scene man? As Long Division approaches it’s 10th
birthday, and I approach my 38th – once where there were regular indie nights and open mics, HMV sales, Goths at the Cathedral and lots of NMEs and Kerrang! There is now… #YoungTeam

So recently, alongside our yearly festival, we’ve spent a lot of time since our last event (in 2019)
putting our money where our mouth is and nurturing the next generation, and doing our bit (with a lot of help from other ace organisations in Wakefield) to support a strong music scene in our city. In February 2019 we launched a brand-new project: #YoungTeam that saw us gather a small group of young people from Wakefield to take part in a Silver Level Arts Award. A GCSE equivalent qualification where we shared our skills and knowledge in organising arts events both small and large scale.

It was a real success, and so after gigs and workshops, a slot on BBC radio, an article in the Guardian, and some pizzas with the young people to celebrate; we quickly got down to planning the next Young Team project for 2020.

We all know what happened then… but we’ve kept at it, sticking to our ethos, and now in 2021, I
think we’ve done #YoungTeam 2 – even better.

For a start we’ve added a new aspect:

Amplify is our brand-new band mentoring programme and over the summer we’ve teamed up some young Wakefield musicians (ages 14-18); with a professional mentors, to make some music, and perform at Long Division Festival in September! Day one saw us descend on Vortex rock bar with some wide-eyed teenagers to make some noise. ‘Teenage Kicks’ was ringing out and all was good. The young people have taken part in workshops with their mentors; Rob Crisp (Knuckle), Georgia Jakubiak (The State of Georgia, The Research), Jamie Roberts (Gilmore and Roberts) and even played a warm up gig at Lobby 1864 as part of Wakefield Artwalk – that was day two! For most of the bands members – it was their first ever gig.

Since then they’ve rehearsed each week, attended a networking event where they met students and professionals from the music industry, shared their work in progress at a creative showcase, and attended live gigs as audience at events run by Body’s, and Philophobia Music. All of this work forms a portfolio, which counts towards a Bronze level Arts Award, and provides CV and college application material for the young people to use ongoing.

The aim was to play at Long Division Festival itself, and they smashed it! Opening the festival at The Hop on Saturday. Parents and friends and public gathered for new music from Wakefields newest bands and they did not disappoint. We’re really proud of them, and more importantly looking forward to where the bands go now and how we can support them.

The young people are currently writing up their original songs in a chord book format to share with you on our website, in the meantime look out for ‘Wasted Hours’, ‘Often the Case’ and ‘The Pearl Foxes’ as bands for the future.

We’ve also run the events organiser programme again, but this called it Access All Areas, because we think the participants get to do a bit of everything. And they get to access behind the scenes of Long Division as an organisation. We have five young creatives, do-ers, and dreamers, who have spent summer learning how to stage events, book bands, promo shows, and make things happen in Wakefield this year. It has been city-centric. Like LD. Their first day we were at Wah Wah Records buying vinyl we thought ‘changed the world’ and exhibited them with some text that very same day. One day done, one music exhibition, done. We’ve been to Wakefield Museum, Wakefield College, Wakefield Music Centre, The Art House and more; we’ve done T-Shirt printing and music making, made playlists, done a venue tour, and more.

The Access All Areas final project was to curate, coordinate, and run a free stage and workshops on Sunday in and around WX (the old market and food hall) – and they rose to the challenge.
They were there at 8am building stage, setting up tech, pinning posters, and readying their

Zac collaborated with Games Pit in Wakefield to run a table top gaming drop in, with demo games and painting. The rest of the team ran the outdoor stage, Ollie on sound, Callum playing and compering, Daisy photographer for the day and Ruby steady the ship as stage manager.
The young team booked poets and musicians and the crowds came! A great atmosphere, a truly
youth led project, and the team even had time to set it up as a fund raiser for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and raised money for that cause.

Callums now gone to Leeds Conservatoire, Daisy and Ruby are at New College and the newest
members of Wakefield Live Music meet up night. Ollie and Zac are finishing school, whilst playing in their bands and making music.

With these kids in charge, Wakefield will have a strong music scene for another few more years yet.