Nico Jansen, head of the culture department of the Municipality of Utrecht:
“Many festivals in Utrecht have been set up by students and are run thanks to their continued voluntary assistance”
In his enthusiasm, Nico Jansen stumbles over his own words, giving one example after the other about the collaboration between the city and Utrecht University: research into the history of the Domplein, lectures in cinema club ’t Hoogt, the university's contribution to the Springdance Festival, the Festival aan de Werf (Wharf Festival), the Festival Oude Muziek (Old Music Festival), and the administrative assistance to the Vrede van Utrecht (Treaty of Utrecht).
As head of the culture department, Nico Jansen is responsible for all subsidised art in Utrecht. Wherever he goes, he meets representatives of Utrecht University. They conduct research into the Dutch Film Festival, offer advice in all kinds of art committees, organise events such as the Cultural Sundays, and visit cinemas, theatres and music halls. Were it not for the university, cultural life in the Cathedral city would not be very exciting. The vivacity of Utrecht nightlife is greatly boosted by the city centre location of the large faculties of Humanities and Law, Economics and Governance.
“Two years ago, we concluded a cultural agreement with Utrecht University. We had already established links, but we wished to intensify our collaboration. This will be beneficial to all parties. Utrecht is a strong region from a European point of view. We have a very young and highly educated population and we rank among the best artistic cities. Utrecht houses much talent and class, but ‘Utrechters’ do not make a lot of noise about their qualities. We are working on developing a strong international profile, by the 2013 celebration of the Vrede van Utrecht (Treaty of Utrecht) and by bidding for the title of European Culture Capital in 2018.”
Outgoing and international
Utrecht University has always been outgoing and international, says Nico Jansen. "The city now takes over these characteristics, together with the Province of Utrecht, which also has become convinced of the need of building a strong profile. In the end, an international city culture will also promote Utrecht's economic growth and attractiveness as a place of business for new companies, and of course as a place of residence for international scientists and thousands of new students."