Ian Byatt #TheDoncasterEffect

Ian Byatt is the founder of Breaking Beats, which provides diversionary activities to help young people overcome their personal barriers, using Hip Hop music and arts activities as a vehicle for change.


Breaking Beats began life in 2014, but my experience of working within the community begins at Rhythm Nation Records from around 1995. Things were actually better then as facilities for young people were good.

 Access to working with young people was simpler then too. There were a host of Youth Centres and facilities around at that time. But there simply has been no progression and it’s actually gotten worse over the course of time. 

At Breaking Beats we have tried to address that balance, although it is becoming increasingly difficult due to the current restrictions and the general lack of investment in areas of Doncaster that require it most. We strive to work in the communities that require the greater intervention, but we have found it difficult to gain actual support when working with some of the harder to reach young people. 

Whole communities of Doncaster are seriously under-subscribed and are not receiving the correct amount of support and as a result the whole community is affected.

The frustration is that there are people in Doncaster that can make a real difference but they tend to be the ones that are ignored. The arts need to be taken back to the kids. Regardless of background and education, we have observed great things from the young people of Doncaster, but have been unable to signpost them sufficiently toward any kind of progression as it really doesn’t exist in this town for these young people. The infra-structure just isn’t there, it all seems a bit half-baked and one-dimensional. 

There are people out there that can make this happen. We have observed it first hand; some of the people/organisations we have worked alongside offer a superb service, but with limited funds and/or support, unfortunately it can be the opposite in too many cases.

DN12 Live is an online radio station based in Conisbrough set up at the beginning of lockdown to serve the areas of Conisbrough, Denaby and Edlington (they have now extended to a  country-wide audience). The station has been very well received as they have a very good understanding of the local area and have been able to tap into this. I was approached by the owners to record a series of one hour shows with young people from around Doncaster to be broadcast at a later date. We managed to receive funding to deliver the sessions but have been massively hampered by the COVID restrictions and have little access to venues. For our organisation to be effective we have to have absolute physical engagement as we provide equipment that the large majority of our participants wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

I’ve done my own show in the meantime which has been pretty well received thus far and I’ve been able to identify a development area of project of pre-recording shows, this time working with adults.


About The Doncaster Effect 

Over 2019 Doncopolitan Founder Warren Draper was commissioned by Doncaster Council to create a photography archive of Doncaster’s residents. The aim of this project was to produce an important record of individuals that are redefining life in the town. This archive is an important record of 50 local people and their lives in Doncaster right now.

Our plan was to exhibit this archive in September 2020 to bring together all the participants in a mammoth gathering of Doncaster trail blazers. Sadly, due to Covid-19, the project has had to be re-invented. We’ll be archiving the project online for 2020, but we hope we can exhibit the project somewhere in 2021.

The title “The Doncaster Effect came about via the Guardian Journalist John Harris, who wrote in the acclaimed publication the Idler Magazine “If you want to understand modern Britain today, Doncaster is a pretty good place to start”.

We’d like to thank Doncaster Council and Arts Council England for funding this project and for all the participants for giving up their time to take part.


Hello it’s Doncopolitan! 

Doncopolitan is currently being funded by Arts Council England Emergency Covid-19 fund, which is enabling us to develop our print magazine and festival into an online format and pay local artists and writers to feature on our site. We want to continue to develop this once the funding has ended. We want to create paid opportunities for artists to write and create on their own terms. We are reaching out to you as a regular reader to ask if you could become a patron of our work. Becoming a Patreon is really simple; you can pay as little as £3 per month which will allow us to continue to be an independent voice for our town.

Find out more about becoming a Patreon here.

Leave a Reply