‘Visit the best part of my profession’

Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf and State Secretary for Culture and the Media Gunay Uslu were in Utrecht on Wednesday to visit the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten on Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan. They were given a tour of the building and talked to students.

An entire entourage enters the HKU building on Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan at ten o’clock on Wednesday morning. After a small army of press staff, spokespersons and advisers, Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf and State Secretary for Culture and Media Gunay Uslu enter the reception next to the main entrance. This is the Minister’s first visit to an art academy. He already seems delighted: “Work visits are the best part of my profession.” Here and there hands are shaken, elsewhere the old-fashioned corona-safe box is given. By the way, there is no time for coffee, because there is still a full program ahead of us.

Welcome

The Minister and State Secretary are welcomed by the Chairman of HKU’s Executive Board, Heleen Jumelet. After this, attention is drawn to a number of students from HKU, who are given the opportunity to show their projects. After two students have explained their graduation projects, we move on to two fourth-year Fashion Design students, who use their creations to share ideas about fashion, sustainability and nature with the Minister and Secretary of State. The duo listens carefully to the students and asks a question here and there.

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Conversation with music and technology

We are then led into a dark room where a cellist is sitting. She starts playing and immediately has the full attention of her audience. The cello and her vocals are amplified using reverberation techniques and self-designed speakers, thus filling the entire space. “For a musician, acoustics are the same as light for a painter,” explains Antal, designer of the sound system. In his own words, he only had two days to build the system. Nevertheless, his and the cellist’s work can count on great admiration from those present.

In addition to attention to art, there is also room for conversation. It is primarily about the role of art in society. Two alumni who have come up with art solutions to social issues get the floor. Twan has designed a card game that will make schizophrenia more susceptible to players, and Yosser uses art to make people more involved in society. They receive compliments from the Secretary of State, who admire the way in which the two have found concrete solutions to abstract social problems.

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lunch conversation with the students

After a short humorous intermezzo, delivered by two first-year theater students, the company is briefed by two alumni on the importance of art in primary and secondary school. The Minister and the State Secretary are also summoned here. “The artist’s voice sounds bad,” says Suzan Lutke, a teacher at HKU. She argues for greater recognition of the importance of art in society.

This invitation ends the tour and the Minister and Secretary of State return to the reception. Here they chat with the students while enjoying a sandwich. Could they perhaps give the Minister and the Secretary of State something with this? “It actually went too fast for that,” Jonne says. She is studying image technology at HKU and was allowed to tell the Minister and the Secretary of State about her graduation project, where she works with mushrooms.

Pleased

“The conversations at the lunch table with the Minister and Secretary of State were mainly about our investigation,” Kick added. He studies Product Design and during the tour he told about his self-designed refrigerator, where he uses the technology from the first real ‘refrigerator’. The size of the delegation surprised him in a positive way: “I did not expect such a large entourage.” He loves the attention of his school and the students. “There really was a conversation,” he says. “The Minister and the Secretary of State showed sincere interest and asked many questions.”

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The work of fashion students

The minister himself says he is inspired by the visit. “It’s nice to see how all the different arts are intertwined,” he says. The social aspect of the projects also appealed to the Minister: “You can see that it is getting the conversation going.” He admires that young artists, like those from HKU, take on the task of connecting art and society.

The chairman of HKU’s main board, Heleen Jumelet, is very pleased with the visit of the Minister and State Secretary: “We have been able to show that we can radiate pride with HKU as an educational institution.” She believes the message is clear: “Art means something to society.”


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