Breaking Beats

Since its conception in 2014, Breaking Beats has grown exponentially to become a well recognised and respected group which looks out for young people across South Yorkshire. Drawing on a range of creative arts, Breaking Beats works informally and in an approachable way with young people to encourage them to engage with their projects.

There is a gap in provision when it comes to helping young people access the arts. Many programmes are successful and can have a great influence on the lives of individuals. However, many programmes also are inaccessible to young people in terms of the location of the projects but also how projects are run.

The formality of many arts-related programmes often puts children and young people off taking part. This is where Breaking Beats comes in. Using language, teaching styles and art styles that the target audience is used to, the session workers at Breaking Beats inspire anywhere between 20 and 200 children per week to get involved with the arts. Specialising in street art and DJ’ing, the Breaking Beats project has spread across Doncaster to work with a wide range of young people.

Funding of £,5000 from the #iwill Fund has allowed the biggest and best project that Breaking Beats has run yet to happen. Using the funding for session workers and specialist artists alongside materials for the project, the Breaking Beats group ran 15 sessions to restore and paint murals on the Boat House building in Askern.

With many regular participants and a large number of new-starters, this project allowed many children who are often from deprived backgrounds to try something new. There was no pressure to stay and the participants were allowed to do as much or little of the painting as they liked. As the project continued, many of the young people became very involved and understood the impact that their project could have on their community.

Lots of changes were seen in the participants but there are two stories of exceptional change that session leader, Ian Byatt shared:

“One boy was very much an outsider and didn’t want to take part. He argued with session workers and didn’t feel enthused about the project at all. We persuaded him to listen to what the project was about and at least try to take part. He came back for the next few weeks and really put the time and effort into the project.

“One of our young people came into the project after three weeks. They seemed to be becoming more confident as the project went on and then one week they didn’t turn up. It turned out that they felt as though they weren’t fitting in and weren’t seen as ‘cool enough’ to be a part of the project. They came in for a chat and we were able to discuss their issues.

“It was nice to know that they were comfortable enough to share these problems with us and that we could reassure them. Once they returned to the project, their confidence and self-belief grew. They said it was the first time they really felt a part of something.”

It is clear that Breaking Beats can really help to transform the life of a young person. By making the arts accessible the project has helped more young people realise that the arts can be something they enjoy.

The Breaking Beats team work tirelessly to engage and inspire children and young people who are often disadvantaged and would rarely get the opportunity to take part in a project that makes them feel a part of their community.

In the future, Breaking Beats aims to expand across more areas of South Yorkshire and perhaps the UK, bringing the arts at an accessible level to children that need it. More focus on music-related projects will also be implemented with the aim of running more DJ’ing sessions. Additionally, any more opportunities for street art will be grasped and held onto tightly with the hope of somehow improving on the already successful Boat House project.