After doing my Arts Award, I was really interested in engaging in other areas of extracurricular arts activities. I looked on local college websites and finally discovered the National Art&Design Saturday Club (NADSC). The NADSC is a free program, funded by the Sorrell Foundation (founded by Lord John and Lady Francis Sorrell) and run like a mini-foundation diploma course. It consists of 30 weeks of classes split into 5-week long carousel rotations, one being a compulsory 'self portrait' unit. These initial portrait pieces then go up to London to be exhibited in a gallery- usually Somerset House- with students getting invited. Visiting the exhibition, young people get inspired by each other's work and that of renowned artists', which excites participants to work creatively throughout the year. Other modules are up to the college but may include: ceramics, glass, games design, and illustration.
A master class with an industry professional in a specific field also makes up a core part of the scheme. These have previously been: Betty Jackson, fashion designer; Dominick Tyler, photographer; Thomas Heatherwick, designer, and many more. This is evidently strongly links with Arts Award through all 3 levels and delivers a stimulating and valuable experience for the young people, engaging them in expert studio practice and allowing the chance for vital question-asking and networking. The end-of-year London show also enables another networking and exhibition opportunity as well as a second visit to a national arts space, notably including: The V&A, Tate Modern, Saatchi and The National Gallery.
Having been part of both I really feel that NADSC and Arts Award run parallel, both such a 'stairway' to personal and professional development, with many of the principles and units being key to both. Young people at my centre (Plymouth College of Art) also agree:
'Doing my Arts Award at the end of the NADSC course has really provided me with amazing facilities- it really works with all the Silver level units, and opens up Gold, through the 'learning a new skill' module, with Saturdays for me being a dip in the water into new and exciting artistic challenges. I love it!'
'Saturday Arts has given me a brilliant opportunity to experience new activities that I wouldn't do in school, get a taste of college life and make some great friends!'
With the course being targeted at the 14-16 age range, Bronze and Silver awards seem perfect to be seamlessly imbedded in the initiative, with Gold potentially coming into place with the many Student Ambassadors, who work with the young people, assisting with technical and creative challenges. Plymouth College of Art has really pioneered the collaboration between Arts Award and NADSC, seeing the obvious links between both and allowing participants to gain an accredited qualification along with the wonderful 30-week process.
From experience, I can say that unquestionably Arts Award and The National Art and Design Saturday Club have helped build confidence in abilities, networking and travelling, creativity and realization of future goals. I will always be grateful to PCA for hosting the brilliant course, The Sorrells for enabling free arts education and skilled practice, and my AA experience, without which I would have never started looking for these creative journeys.