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Long Division's Festival Director says hiring young people has been 'revelatory'

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Published Monday 28 March 2022

Written by Phoebe Patrick, Youth Music NextGen Contributing Writer

In 2011 Dean Freeman, now Long Division’s Festival Director, cashed in his pension fund to put on a festival that showcased West Yorkshire’s best talent and give touring bands and acts somewhere to play in Wakefield – a place that was usually missed off the bill for tours due to its lack of venues.

In 2021, 10 years after the festival’s inception, Long Division secured funding from the Youth Music Incubator Fund to hire three new roles to help young people into paid work in the music industry. We caught up with Dean, and Eve, Creative Community Assistant, to discuss how Youth Music’s investment has shaped the future for them.

What was your journey towards applying for funding and what was your experience like when applying for Youth Music’s Incubator Fund?

Dean: Long Division had been going for 10 years and we had evolved from just being a festival. We were doing a lot of work in education, working at schools and creating the next generation of musical talent, but in that moment we weren’t quite there in terms of being able to hire a young person. The Incubator Fund was an amazing opportunity to give new opportunities to new staff members that we could have never afforded by ourselves.

How has Long Division benefitted from having diverse young people join their team?

Dean: Prior to the three young people coming on board, it was just myself and Paul, we were the only staff members. We’re both Dads now and don’t have the energy that we used to. So bringing Eve, Meg and Eva on board has brought in fresh new ideas. It was almost like we pressed a button and then over 50% of our staff were cool young people, and that’s been revelatory for us.

four young people working at an event
Eve (second in from the right) working at Long Division's Exhibition

Eve, how have you found the experience so far?

Eve: I studied a Music Performance degree, so I knew a lot of musicians and was involved in a lot of performance-based things but I wasn’t really involved in the community aspect. I knew a little bit about what I wanted to do but this really gave me the opportunity to explore the music industry which as a graduate has been amazing really.

What is unique about your role with Long Division?

Eve: One of the best things about my role is being able to have an idea and just try it out, and really take ownership of the project I’m on, it’s a malleable role in that respect. I feel very lucky to be able to try things out, and maybe it doesn’t work but you can still learn from it, and know what career you want to pursue from those experiences.

Dean, what has it been like bringing people on board after being a one-man band for such a long time?

Dean: Summer 2020 was the first time I hired someone that wasn’t me, and it was the first time I had an office, which was a big step during Covid. The growth of staff is still a very recent thing, we were doing the work beforehand, just not employing people to do it. I was just destroying myself doing everything really, so since September last year when we secured the funding to hire three young people, it’s been really good. I love managing the team and being able to give them almost free reign over their projects, I think the best way to learn is just getting stuck in. The DIY ethic that we were set up on I try and replicate with my team.

Eve holding plates of food at an event with people in the background
Eve at a Working Mens' Club event

What have been your highlights being able to work with Long Division?

Eve: My favourite project has been the Working Mens’ Clubs. We got some funding to put on gigs in Working Mens’ Clubs across the Wakefield district. It’s been amazing to bring something to these spaces and a lot of these clubs are such great spaces, located in the heart of the community, so they’re great spaces to put gigs on and bring music to a wider audience. I’ve also had the chance to work across the arts and not just in the music sector, collaborating with photographers and artists which has been incredible.

Dean: Genuinely just seeing how far the team have come. It’s been 6 months since they joined us and Eva, our Live Event Assistant, recently went live on the radio talking about Long Division so knowledgeably and with absolute authority. It’s heartwarming for us how they are true ambassadors for what we’re doing, which is why I’m so grateful to have secured long-term funding. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have in a few days or a couple of months.


Youth Music's investment in music organisations like Long Division is made possible thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England, players of People's Postcode Lottery and support from partners, fundraisers and donors.

Apply for a grant from the Youth Music Incubator Fund

The fourth round of the Youth Music Incubator Fund is now open for applications, offering grants of £5,000 to £30,000 to businesses, collectives, and not-for-profits working in the music industries to create sustainable, meaningful career opportunities for young people aged 18-25, particularly those who are currently unrepresented in the sector.

Learn more and apply on our website.

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Incubator Fund

Grants of £5,000 to £30,000 are available to businesses, collectives, and not-for-profits working in the music industries.


Discover funding options available with Youth Music.