Wakefield City Centre is set to come alive to the sound of music next summer when Long Division makes a welcome return thanks to support from Wakefield BID.
The multi venue city centre festival was launched in 2011 and ran in Wakefield for six years, taking place in various venues ranging from the Cathedral and the Orangery to smaller locations.
After taking a break in 2017 to consider new ways forward, festival organisers have joined forces with Wakefield BID and Long Division will return for 2018 with plans to involve more venues, more artists and branching out to new forms of entertainment such as comedy and the spoken word to attract even greater numbers of visitors to the city.
“Long Division grew steadily during its early years but when visitor numbers began to plateau we decided to take a year out and think about where we could take it,” explained Festival Director Dean Freeman who gave up a job in the NHS and cashed in his pension to create Long Division.
“There was a genuine question mark as to whether it could happen again as we couldn’t see a way it could grow but then the BID came on board. Their support has massively revitalised it and we are tremendously grateful to them.”
In the past Long Division has attracted on average 1,800 festival goers bringing in some £100,000 to the local economy in terms of secondary spend over and above transport and ticket costs. The aim is to increase this significantly by getting more businesses involved in the festival which is scheduled for June 1-3 next year.
A key aim for Wakefield BID, which was launched earlier this year with a view to making the city a great place to do business and to boost the local economy, is to market Wakefield and attract visitors from far and wide.
“Long Division has a committed following of festival goers and we want them to continue to come to Wakefield and bring their friends. There is great potential to grow Long Division still further and make it a major event for visitors. The festival thrives on holding events in venues of all shapes and sizes so we would urge any business wanting to raise their profile to get in touch and get involved,” said BID Manager Elizabeth Murphy.
Although details for the festival are still being finalised it is planned to begin on Friday June 1 with an evening opening event, continuing from 12 noon to 11pm on the Saturday with as many as 20 different stages running at various times. It is hoped to attract a well-known performer to take to the precinct stage on the Sunday.
“We plan to involve as much of the city centre as possible maybe siting stages in the Bull Ring, Trinity Walk and The Ridings as well as taking the festival down to Kirkgate. The idea is to get people moving around the city enjoying the festival but also making use of local amenities, attractions and businesses,” explained Dean.
“Predominantly the stages will be inside but it won’t be all about music. There is scope for visual art, comedic shows and spoken word which is very big in Wakefield. That is why we are looking for a range of venues; we like doing shows in unusual places and for some performances small and intimate such as a café or bookshop is ideal.”
If you’d like to know more about Long Division and how your business could get involved, contact the BID.