It is slightly different to other years. “We are working on the basis that we will have to maintain a 1.5 metre distance,” says Rob van Duijn, head of Studium Generale. That is why PAS will not be held in all the university buildings in the city centre, but at the Tapijn barracks. “We have the space there. The main podium will be in the pit, behind the main building. It is a natural arena. It takes 350-400 people, even with social distancing.”
There will also be a tent on the grounds, where people can visit an array of performances – from theatre to circus acts. In Building Z, which will house international student association Kaleido in the future, there will be a stage for student culture. The lectures are in the main building.
The opening is on Friday, with the Dutch band Luwten, the programme on Saturday is from 15:00hrs. “We hope that families will come in the afternoon,” says Van Duijn. “The PAS Festival always had a section that appealed to children, now we are really focusing on them.”
There will also be four short talks on Saturday. “Each time, a scientist and an artist will talk to each other,” says Barbara Strating, programmer for Studium Generale. “About the boundary between science and art, but also for example, about what inspiration is. We will be recording the talks as a podcast.”
It won’t be quite the same, says Van Duijn. “The intimacy will be lost to some extent, that is a pity.” People will also have to book a place beforehand. “Normally, everyone could just turn up and enter until the hall was full. Now we want to keep tabs on the number of people and where those people are.”
Despite this, he and his colleagues from Studium Generale are very glad that the event can go ahead. “Only for a week and a half now, I have started to believe that it will take place,” Strating laughs. “Instead of cancelling speakers and looking for alternatives, we can now work on something that is going to happen; that creates a completely different dynamic.”
Van Duijn has missed the audience. “During the online lectures, we often had ‘a packed audience’. Now and again, you might recognise a name on the list, but the feeling of experiencing something together is less. The emotion is flatter, just like the screen is flat. It will be great to see people’s reactions again. For us, but also for the artists.”