Standing in the midst of the National Saturday Club’s Summer Show launch at Somerset House last July – an event literally buzzing with creativity and passion, and most importantly young people from across the UK – sealed it for me. There was no way that Essex Book Festival wasn’t going to be a part of it in July 2024. The challenge was finding an Essex partner to collaborate with us on it.
One glance at the list of participating exhibitors quickly identified Anglia Ruskin University as a contender. This was swiftly confirmed by Paul Alnutt, the national lead on the National Saturday Club.
Paul explained that Anglia Ruskin runs more Saturday Clubs than any other organisation in the UK, but that it has yet to host one of the new Writing and Talking Saturday Clubs. Perhaps we could team up with them to fill that gap? Yes, please! In what seemed like hours, Paul had hooked us up with his contact at Anglia Ruskin, and the ball was well and truly in motion.
So, what is the National Saturday Club, who is it for, and why is it such a great thing to be a part of?
The National Saturday Club gives 13–16-year-olds across the country the opportunity to study subjects they love at their local university, college or cultural institution, for free.
Offering dynamic creative learning programmes in eight subject areas from Art & Design, Craft & Making, Fashion & Business, Film & Screen, Performance & Theatre, Science & Engineering, Society & Change, through to its new Writing & Talking one, the National Saturday Club works to develop young people’s skills, nurture their talents, and most importantly from our perspective, to encourage their creativity.
A remarkable 1,800 young people attended 94 Saturday Clubs in 72 host institutions in 2024, made possible by the energy and commitment of 400+ tutors, 200+ student assistants and 500+ industry partners.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce the launch of our new Writing & Talking Saturday Club, which will be taking place at Anglia Ruskin University every Saturday (10am-1pm) from March to July.
Open to all 13-16-year-olds living in and around the Chelmsford area who are passionate about writing and talking, our young participants will explore multiple forms of writing, including zine-making, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, blogging etc, and talking, including spoken word poetry and podcasting.
The programme includes two trips to London: one for a visit backstage at Royal Opera House to see its workings, the other to attend the national exhibition of work at Somerset House, which will be showing work from National Saturday Clubs across the UK. Again, both of these events, thanks to Arts Council England, are funded by the programme.
We only have 15 places available for 2024 – hopefully we will be able to extend this in 2025 – so if you know anyone who would benefit from taking part in the Club, make sure they get in quick.More information about the Club and the sign-up link can be found here: https://saturday-club.org/club/essex-book-festival-aru-writing-talking/
Image: National Saturday Club