Invitation to Schools to get Creative in Jane Austen Project

Destination Basingstoke’s ‘Sitting With Jane’ project to celebrate the life of Jane Austen next year, has launched a parallel schools project, in partnership with Sentinel Housing Association and the Basingstoke Consortium.

The ‘Wild in Art’ event, delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, is a public art trail of BookBenches that will be staged in the summer of 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Schools now have the opportunity to design and paint their own mini BookBenches that will all be exhibited in Festival Place before the main event, in June 2017. Schools get a comprehensive resource pack and the BookBench which they paint in any way they like to interpret the Jane Austen theme. It could be a part of the English, history or art curriculum or maybe as a fun after school activity. Friends and family as well as the general public will get to see the BookBenches on display before they are returned to schools to be given pride of place in libraries and reception areas as a permanent reminder of the project.

Sentinel Housing Association are funding much of the project through their ‘Making it Happen’ Fund, and this will subside the costs to individual schools.

Sarah Smith, Sentinel’s Community Investment Manager said: “We’re delighted to sponsor the Sitting with Jane schools project through our making it happen community grants programme. It’s a really exciting project that gives our local young people, through their schools, the opportunity to learn about local heritage in an accessible, fun and creative way. And we look forward to seeing the results!”

The Basingstoke Consortium are engaging with local schools to support them with the programme:

“The Consortium is a local educational charity working with schools to promote extra-curricular experiences that are linked to local businesses. We are involved in the Sitting with Jane project as a means of engaging with schools that we previously have not worked with. The project offers an opportunity for children to get involved in a local activity, to celebrate Basingstoke and its heritage and to quite literally sit alongside and interact with local businesses in the construction of the Jane Austen trail.” Richard Dorney Savage, Chief Executive of the Basingstoke Consortium.

The project is most suitable to KS2 and 3 so both primary and secondary schools are being invited to get involved, there are limited packages available so they are encouraged to contact Tracey Tatam at the Basingstoke Consortium as a soon as possible. The mini BookBench is accompanied by a resource pack for teachers to explore the best ways to use the BookBench for learning, as well as lots of practical tips on how to paint it.

“Sitting with Jane is a special project that is going to create a huge amount of interest nationally, and we hope that by getting schools involved we will be encouraging a whole new generation to get excited about our local heritage and spread the word about Jane Austen and her birthplace”, said Felicity Edwards from Destination Basingstoke

‘Sitting With Jane’ will form part of a worldwide celebration of Jane Austen’s life, and the ‘Jane Austen 200 – A life in Hampshire’ event spearheaded by Hampshire Cultural Trust, is one of many exciting and creative projects in Basingstoke and the surrounding area planned for 2017.