The University of Groningen can look back with pleasure on a successful month filled with For Infinity festivities which lasted from 15 May to 15 June. It was a month packed with events for students and staff, townsfolk and northerners, contacts and companies, from at home and abroad. The RUG400 programme had something for everyone – parties, sports, knowledge-sharing, cultural experiences. The University wanted to involve as many people as possible in its RUG400 For Infinity programme. This approach was successful – over 150,000 people in total attended the events.
The absolute highlights included the musical theatre spectacle For Infinity, a hilarious film about student life in Groningen and a musical based on the life of Aletta Jacobs. Culture merged with science in the Gift for Infinity event and the Night of Art and Science. The ‘400 days for 400 questions’ project resulted in special lectures for children, lectures and debates. Exhibitions were held in the University Museum, the Der Aa-kerk and the Groningen Museum. There was a conference for 40 European research universities, ten honorary doctorates were awarded, the largest student gala in history was held, and a parade featuring a masquerade about the University and the city was organized together with townsfolk from the city of Groningen. On the sporting side, there was a boat race, a run and a walk. Former students carried on where they left off during the RUG400 alumni weekend. The month of festivities concluded with a final party on the Grote Markt, Vismarkt and the Waagplein, featuring performances by BLØF and De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig.
The University of Groningen commissioned Sacha de Boer to take photos of the Groningen DNA. Her exhibition is entitled ‘Samen 400 jaar!’ (400 years together!) De Boer’s pictures included campaign images for ten events, and resulted in an open-air exhibition in public spaces in Groningen city centre throughout the anniversary month. De Boer also compiled a series of low-threshold documentary photos depicting the Northern and socially relevant themes healthy ageing, energy and sustainable society. They were simply worded in the slogans: ‘400 years of good health’, ‘400 years of energy’ and ‘400 years in balance’. The photos were printed on banners, which adorned the city centre.
The University underlined its links with society by inviting the people of Groningen to send in their questions. The questions formed the basis for a number of events, debates and lectures organized in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe, which involved input from numerous academic scholars. The questions also led to three research proposals for the Gift for Infinity, a gift for the future to which the public were asked to contribute. A total of € 150,000 has already been raised for the winning proposal, ‘Let Old be Gold’.
The events were designed to reflect the links with the direct surroundings and the power of the North. The Bommen Boat Race, a rowing race between Groningen and Münster, created a new tradition for the popular Bommen Berend festival. The flourishing Groningen rowing club has been put in charge of organizing this event, thereby ensuring that it will continue long into the future. New life was blown into the once highly successful Lauwersloop, guaranteeing the financial and organizational future of this event too.
It is more than two years since the think-tank comprising representatives from cultural institutions, the municipal and provincial authorities, the northern media and the University of Groningen first got together to organize a major event for the general public. Their efforts resulted in the open-air musical theatre spectacle For Infinity on the Zernike Campus Groningen. The show was produced in association with the Noord Nederlands Toneel.
Contact between students and the people of Groningen was the central theme in a community art project entitled Parade. The project involved a parade, in which students and townsfolk worked together to produce works of art, under the watchful eye of an experienced artist. Like the serenade performed for King Willem-Alexander during the opening ceremony, the Parade project was based on the traditional masquerade, but featured a modern twist.
RUG400 came about in association with, and thanks to support from, numerous northern partners. We are particularly grateful to our main sponsors: Freia, Het Fonds, Stichting Nicolaas Muleriusfonds, Stichting Beringer Hazewinkel, the Groningen municipal and provincial authorities, Gasunie, GasTerra, Stichting J.B. Scholtenfonds and Menzis. We all pulled together and made RUG400 an enormous success!
Watch the following video made by My Facilities:
Els van den Berg, RUG400-lustrumcoördinator
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