Finding venues and spaces to use for Long Division has always been a challenge for us – that hasn’t changed over the last ten years. That challenge has led to some exciting and fun experiences; the disused Balne Lane Library, Wakefield Catherdal, Neon Workshops, an outdoor Precinct Stage, a Town Hall Conference room… all were unusual, awkward or expensive, but also memorable, unique and very Long Division.
The thing is – the pool is running dry. In 2019 we spent 6k just to get venues somewhere close to spec with PAs because there simply aren’t any venues in the city that have an in-house PA. In fact the only venue we used where we didn’t to bring in equipment was Warehouse 23.
A lack of venues fit for 100-150 cap shows, ready to go with a PA is (we feel) a massive problem. It means less opportunities for local bands to perform, learn, connect, find audiences and less national bands passing through.
Space for those size shows are essential to the cultural lifeblood of the city, much more than an annual Long Division. Right now we have a fresh wave of promoters new and old trying once more to get live music happening in the city.
But it’s never been harder, for a multitude of reasons. It’s unfair that the pressure and financial risk is on the promoters, when the venues are often happy to take income from the bar but not contribute to paying for tech or artist fees.
The thing is, we have some cool spaces but they are almost all lacking a PA. When it costs 200, 300, 400 quid to get a decent PA, it makes shows completely unfeasible. Because the promoters are nice people, they often pay the bands and everyone has a great time, except them footing the bill.
We are exploring a possible scheme that would see a PA bought for the city through funding. This PA would be of a good enough quality to be used in the various 100-150 cap spaces we have in the city. It would be stored centrally and available for promoters and musicians to hire for a significantly lower fee than from a regular PA provider. The project would be run at cost with income taken from promoters used to pay for storage, repairs, improvements and potentially small admin costs / hours if the project became successful and popular. There could also be a pool of aspiring sound technicians looking to develop their skills available to all.
The issues discussed above might be personal to us and not be representative of Wakefield as a whole. But either way, we’d like to hear your thoughts. Your opinions and data would help a funding bid, were it to happen, so please share your views here.