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Northumbria joins National Saturday Club network to offer creative opportunities for teenagers

29th March 2023

Young people from across the North East aged 13 to 16 are being given the chance to experience art and design activities at Northumbria University as part of the National Saturday Club programme.

The National Saturday Club operates across the country with support from a network of educational partners to offer young people of all abilities a unique opportunity to explore subjects they love for free, to build new skills, discover their talents, meet new people, and to explore future study and career possibilities.

Weekly Saturday classes were launched by staff at Northumbria’s School of Design and Department of Arts in the Autumn and have proved so popular that there’s already a waiting list to join the sessions.

Caption: Young people took part in a cycle-inspired masterclass led by industry experts and attended by BMX star, Kriss Kyle.

Dr Rod Adams, Deputy Head of Design at Northumbria, said: “We’re currently working with around 26 young people who are being given the chance to experience a cross section of the art and design subjects Northumbria has to offer – from fashion and fine art to graphic and interior design.

“We’re the most northern Saturday Club in the country, with the nearest ones held in Middlesbrough, so we hope we’re helping to spread opportunity while demonstrating to the young people involved some of the career paths available in the creative and cultural industries.”

Dr Judy Thomas, an Assistant Professor involved in teaching across Northumbria’s Fine Art programmes, added: “We have strong links with a number of schools across Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Northumberland to make sure that everyone, whatever their background, is given the chance to apply to be part of the Saturday Club at Northumbria with a simple statement about what they hope to get out of the experience.”

Northumbria Fine Art graduate, Sophie Crocker, has been employed to lead the Club along with nine student assistants who are currently studying relevant subjects at the University at undergraduate and postgraduate level. They are all supported by expert staff to devise and deliver each of the Saturday classes.

As part of every 20-week Club schedule, young people will participate in National Saturday Club events including Masterclasses with leading industry professionals, a Summer Show where Saturday Clubs nationwide exhibit their work in a public exhibition, and a Graduation Ceremony for Club members to celebrate their achievements.

A highlight from the Northumbria sessions so far has been a cycle-inspired Masterclass, co-hosted by performance sportswear brand Endura and the company behind some of the world’s best-known sports and lifestyle brands, Pentland Brands.

The teams from Endura and Pentland brought along one of BMX’s biggest stars, Kriss Kyle, who put on a jaw-dropping display to help inspire the young people after they were tasked with designing custom mountain bike jerseys to represent the Endura motto: “The only limit is your imagination”.

Caption: Young people from across the North East aged 13 to 16 are being given the chance to experience art and design activities at Northumbria.

Eight designs have since been selected for production at Endura’s state-of-the-art facilities in Livingston, Scotland. They will be exhibited at The National Saturday Club Summer Show, held at London’s iconic Somerset House this June. 

Professor Caron Gentry, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Arts, Design and Social Sciences at Northumbria University, said: “We’re extremely proud that Northumbria is now part of the remarkable network of National Saturday Clubs, which bring together higher education, further education, the cultural sector and industry to deliver enriching extra-curricular activities for young people.

“The particular focus within the National Saturday Club model on engaging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented communities, fits well with our ambition at Northumbria to give all students with potential and ability the opportunities to succeed.”

Northumbria University is ranked fourth in the UK for research power in art and design, according to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework. Discover more here about study options at Northumbria.

To find out more about National Saturday Club at Northumbria University, visit https://saturday-club.org/club/northumbria-university-art-design/
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