Long Division: Arts Award and Music in the Community

Long Division: Arts Award and Music in the Community

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BY: Guest Writer
10 Jan 2024

This month on the Arts Award Blog we’re taking a look at delivery from centres that work with large groups of young people. This week we’re hearing from Paul Bateson who runs Arts Award Centre Long Division. Based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, the centre offers opportunities for a new generation of musicians, including a dedicated festival, where young people can meet artists and create their own music, whilst achieving Arts Award levels Explore, Bronze and Silver. Read on to be inspired by their delivery which gives back to their local community.

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. We know Arts Award value these things too; and since 2019 we’ve used the qualifications as the backbone of our offer.

And so, a few months since our final Long Division Festival, our first one in 2011, and our last 2023, 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? Luckily, something that wasn’t about when I was a kid - there is now…

Since 2019, alongside our yearly festival, we’ve spent a lot of time nurturing the next generation (with a lot of help from other ace organisations in Wakefield, such as Wakefield College and Wakefield Music Service) to support a strong music scene in our city. We knew we wanted young people to go to music concerts, meet local creatives, make music, and make things happen, and so as soon as we began planning, we knew that Arts Awards were the natural partner for our vision. The Silver level criteria basically matching what we wanted to include.

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 the Silver Level Arts Award. We shared our skills and knowledge in organising arts events both small and large scale. We kicked off by attending lots of local gigs, (Wakefield Jazz, Bodys, Theatre Royal Wakefield) where the young people could review the events and meet professionals in music (Unit 1 Part C & D), then inspired by this, the young people form their creative challenges and debut them at Artwalk Wakefield (Unit 1 Part A & B).

It was a real success: There were gigs and workshops, exhibitions and careers events, a slot on BBC radio, an article in The Guardian and once we’d had pizzas with the young people to celebrate; we quickly got down to planning the next, and the next and the next.

When we ran the programme again, we 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 young creatives, do-ers, and dreamers, who spend summer learning how to stage events, book bands, promo shows, and make things happen in Wakefield. At Wah Wah Records we bought vinyl we thought ‘changed the world’ and exhibited them with some text that very same day, to practise our review writing and communication skills for Arts Award. Trips to Wakefield Museum, Wakefield College, Wakefield Music Centre, The Art House and more. T-Shirt printing and music making, playlist making, venue touring, and more - inspire and inform the young peoples work on arts practice and pathways.

The Access All Areas final project, for Silver Unit 2, is to curate, coordinate, and run a free event at our sister festival Wakefield Live – and they always rise to the challenge - building stage, setting up tech, pinning posters, and readying their workshops. From the Access All Areas projects, over the years we’ve run a tabletop gaming drop in, with demo games and painting; an outdoor stage, Ollie on sound, Callum playing and compering, Daisy photographing 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. Callum has now gone to Leeds Conservatoire, Daisy is a professional musician and the newest members of Wakefield Live Music meet up. Ollie and Zac are finishing college, whilst playing in their bands and making music. All received Silver Arts Award with Access All Areas.


We began to add new aspects.

Amplify is our band mentoring programme for Wakefield musicians (ages 12-18). New bands work with a professional mentors, to make music, and finally perform at Long Division Festival itself! This fits the Bronze level perfectly. We know that great musicians are huge music fans, and one of the first tasks we ask is that young people make an inspiration station, a shrine, an exhibition of one of their favourite artists, which we programme for them to show at ArtWalk Wakefield (Bronze Part C)

As part of Bronze Part A; the young people take part in practical workshops with their mentors; Rob Crisp (Knuckle), Georgia Jakubiak (The State of Georgia, The Research), Jamie Roberts (Gilmore and Roberts) and even play some warm up shows – for most it can be their first ever gig. Next, they rehearse each week, (Part A), attend networking events where they met students and professionals from the music industry, (Part C) and share their work in progress at a creative showcase. (Part A).

They attend live gigs at events run by Body’s, and Philophobia Music (for Bronze Part B). All of this work forms a portfolio, which counts towards Arts Award, and also provides CV and college application material. We even help them record a demo, and put a press kit together, where they promote their music, and create tutorials for the new round of Amplify youngsters to learn their songs (Bronze Part D)

We’ve helped ten new acts since we started. We’re really proud of them, and more importantly, we’re looking forward to seeing where the bands go now and thinking about how we can support them.

Soundcheck is our Explore level offer. And it is where we visit schools in the Wakefield district to provide students with the experience of a high energy, professional, live music event – in their very own school! Young people see rap artist Leon Rhymes perform, take part in a question & answer session with him and staff from Long Division to share their experience of music events over the last ten years. They then give the opportunity for students to learn about the music industry from artists such as Leon; in bespoke workshops (Part A) write and record their own raps (Part C and D)


With these kids in charge, Wakefield will have a strong music scene for another few more years yet. With funding, all programmes are free to access, an important tenet – so we’re developing and encouraging the musical future of our city, while supporting existing organisations.

Feeling inspired? Read more case studies from centres with exciting delivery on our Arts Award blog.

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