Utrecht - city of imagination?

Connecting at the Social Impact Factory


Utrecht is a city bursting with creative production and imaginative activities. An impactful and highly multidisciplinary University of the Arts, and many creative projects at Utrecht University and the University of Applied Sciences as well. An exceptionally vital live performance music and theatre scene with bigger and smaller venues working closely together. A hub for game development with the many studios working under the Dutch Game Garden. Original museums and spaces for artistic performance and expression. And all of this in a city that is considered an infrastructural and institutional example internationally – with images of its bike traffic and restored waterways populating global social media frequently. At the same time, there are serious questions of equality and inclusivity connected to this perspective – related to affordable housing, job opportunities, education, and more. There are also important questions around how these creative and imaginative activities relate to positive societal change.

What happens when those involved in the city’s creative production and activities come together to think strategically about what Utrecht means, and might mean in the future, as a city of imagination? What if we recognize the potential of the city in this regard, and ask some hard questions around challenges and limitations we are running into?

Sonnenborgh stellar observatory museum by Maartje ter Horst

On the evening of November 23rd organizations and institutions related to creative production and societal imaginations will meet at the Social Impact Factory. The SIF is co-host of this event together with Utrecht University’s Transformative Cities Hub and Utrecht Young Academy. Speaking participants include Utrecht City Council, the Utrecht University of the Arts, the Regional Development Organization (ROM), the Dutch Game Garden, Sterrenwacht Sonnenborgh, Impact Makers and more.

This evening is meant to give those attending the opportunity to connect to each other and to strategize around the following questions:

  • If we look at Utrecht as a city of the imagination, what do we see? What are its strengths and challenges?
  • How could this focus in the city be supported to realizes its potential locally and internationally?
  • Who gets to be part of Utrecht as a hub of imagination and creative production, and who is excluded?

We will make use of the notion of ‘imagination infrastructures’ as a basis for investigating these questions.

The evening will be co-facilitated by Joost Vervoort (Associate Professor, Transformative Imagination, Utrecht University) and Annemiek Temming (Director, Social Impact Factory).


19.30: Doors open and drinks
19.45: Introduction by Joost Vervoort and Annemiek Temming followed by plenary discussion with members of Utrecht-based organizations and institutions (see above) and the audience. Identification of key questions to be discussed further.
20.30: Open space sessions across the SIF with discussions happening on different questions raised in the plenary session.
21.15: Reporting back from open space sessions.
21.30: End of official programme; drinks
22.00: Close

Start date and time
End date and time
Social Impact Factory, Vredenburg 40, Utrecht

Participation is free, but we kindly ask you to register via this form