For the past six years, the National Art & Design Saturday Club has been connecting young students with the creative disciplines.
An initiative to inspire the country's next creative generation, the Club hosts 14- to 16-year-old students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who attend a weekly workshop at their local arts university, as well as a series of visits to galleries and museums. As part of the programme, the classes are invited to visit studios and practices for a masterclass which allows them to explore creative businesses as well as test their learnings in a new environment. Wallpaper* was witness to the incredible efforts that the Sorrell Foundation put into the Club last year, when the team hosted a masterclass in the magazine's London HQ.
Instigated by the Foundation as a vehicle for creativity, craft and design (and to encourage the kids’ confidence and self-esteem), the initiative has grown tenfold – from four to 40 clubs – since its inception, held every Saturday at universities across the country.
‘After running the National Art & Design Saturday Club for six years, it is clear that the model works for art and design, and could work for other subject areas too,’ says John Sorrell, whose foundation (that he runs with his wife Frances Sorrell) is behind the initiative. The past academic year, the network has expanded with the introduction of a National Science & Engineering Club, set up in partnership with Kingston University (already part of the network since 2013), with engineering firm Arup hosting the students for a masterclass. The inaugural edition took on 36 students, who explored the fields of aeronautical science and aerospace engineering (the university’s strengths). The Science & Engineering Club will be extended to eight locations in 2016, with the plan of branching further in years to come.
‘We believe that the Saturday Club model, with its year-long programme of activities and national events, as well as its impact on members' creative and life skills and their ambition and confidence, is a valuable enhancement to the school curriculum,’ explains Sorrell, noting that it’s not just the creative disciplines that need encouraging among younger students. ‘There is often a great emphasis on and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, but these subjects still suffer from low take-up post-16, especially among girls,’ he continues. The new Club’s goal is to allow young people to explore and enjoy different subjects outside the pressures of school, Sorrell explains, while also showing them that these disciplines can be fun.