Sixteen colleges across the UK are regularly opening their doors on Saturdays in an initiative that’s making the arts more accessible to teenagers, reports Samantha King.

Working with the Saturday Club Trust charity, colleges have been running regular clubs lasting up to 30 weeks in fashion, business, engineering, writing and speaking for local school pupils, and using their own students, tutors and external practitioners to lead sessions.

The idea behind the programme is to encourage 13- to 16-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue creative subjects after their schooling and get them work in the creative industries.

Of course, the colleges get to boost their recruitment figures in the process.

“In terms of recruitment, having that kind of regular offer that you can repeatedly go out to the schools with builds those relationships,” explained Dr Sophie Scott-Brown, director of education and research at the Saturday Club Trust.

Participating colleges include York College, Reading College, Cornwall College Cambourne, Highbury College, and East Coast College. Truro and Penwith College recently ran a workshop on how to make paintbrushes and paints for its own Saturday club attendees.

“Staff work Saturdays because they believe in what we are doing,” added Joanna Conlon, curriculum team leader for creative arts at Blackburn College, which runs a Saturday club for three hours a week. “I believe that the kids who attend are potentially the next Dysons, Hirsts and Emins. We need them.”

The cost of setting up and running a club is estimated to cost £10,000 upwards.

“It’s a match-funded model. What the college has to provide is a regular venue and tutor, and cover the health and safety logistics and the resource budget,” Dr Scott-Brown explained. “The trust is mostly responsible for is coordinating the national side of the network and helping organising special classes and visits to places through using our network of contacts.”

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