We Speak to Festival Booker Joe Patten Ahead of This Year’s Beat the Streets

Words: Caradoc Gayer
Photos: Jake Haseldine
Saturday 27 January 2024
reading time: min, words

Tomorrow, Beat the Streets Festival will return to the streets of Nottingham. We spoke to festival booker Joe Patten to gain his perspective on the festival’s continued success since 2018...

Beat The Streets Photo By Jake Haseldine (1)
Each year Beat the Streets Festival sees local promoters, DHP Family co-ordinate a stacked line-up of artists from all echelons of the grassroots Midlands scene. Throughout the day these artists play the most popular venues in Notts, with 100 percent of ticket sales, merchandise and bar-proceeds going to Framework: the charity who are working to counteract the homelessness crisis in the East Midlands.
Beat the Streets annually acquires ever greater enthusiasm from attendees, bands and venue staff alike. Its success has been something to behold; since 2018, the festival has raised a grand total of £409,000. In 2023, the funding helped the construction of new flats for the homeless on Birkin Avenue while Sneinton Hermitage Centre can now open its doors all year round as a direct result of Framework and Beat the Streets funding. DHP promoter Joe Patten says that these results couldn’t have been better.
“In first year, we weren’t really sure how it would all come together,” says Joe, “so we had to call in a lot of favours. But it’s been so well received and this year, we’re shooting to raise half-a-million.”
Standing out amid DHP's successful catalogue of festivals, like Dot to Dot and Splendour, Beat the Streets exemplifies their central ethos in that it’s always important to channel lesser-known, Midlands based artists into the best possible place from which they can continue to play music and do what they love. This year’s line-up is no less exciting, with forward-thinking acts like Alfie Sharp, Bloodworm and G!rlband seizing the opportunity to make their voices more widely known.
“We don’t put the seven biggest bands on the line-up on Rock City,” Joe notes. “We mix it up and give others a chance to play there, like last year it was ALT BLK ERA. I remember it was quite an early gig for them at the time and they smashed it. It’s great to be able to nurture bands and give them those opportunities but also see their live skills. It’s all well and good getting demos, but until you see the band in a room, it’s not always easy to decide what the next steps will be and how they could develop.” 
And of course, a great result of this outlook is that Beat the Streets now arguably leads the way in terms of what socially responsible festivals in the UK can achieve. This was shown when the festival won a ‘Community Impact Award’ in 2022. Joe notes how the success is partly attributable to the efficient partnership between DHP and Framework, the charity.

What we’ve learned over the years, from working with Framework, is that there’s ‘no-one-size-fits-all’ remedy for homelessness

“They’re so switched into what’s needed,” Joe reflects. “What we’ve learned over the years, from working with Framework, is that there’s ‘no-one-size-fits-all’ remedy for homelessness. So, the money that’s raised is spent in mixed ways. Some of it is short-term physical help, like shelters open for emergencies and then other times there’s long-term stuff, in the hiring of mental health practitioners. Sometimes people think of just helping the homeless with tents and sleeping bags but it’s not really that: we have to think more long-term. We’re six years into it now and the partnership works really well. We do what we do and they do what they do.”

Nowadays, Beat the Streets has undoubtedly become a testament to something special that takes place in Notts grassroots arts and culture scene. Call it what you will: DHP’s championing of underground Midlands bands, their passionate sense of social responsibility, or the general will for charities and promoters to help each other; amid all of that, Beat the Streets seems emblematic of a conviction, in and around Nottingham, that arts and culture can and will make a difference. 

Beat The Streets takes place on 28 January 2024, you can buy tickets here

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