Arthouse profiles

Arthouse profiles

Forum, Groningen, The Netherlands

Dirk Nijdam

May 2020

An accessible meeting place about tomorrow’s possibilities in today’s world

Forum, Groningen, The Netherlands

"In the heart of the lively city of Groningen, in the North of the Netherlands, you'll find Forum Groningen, a spectacular new building that houses different activities and great ambitions. Designed by NL Architects in Amsterdam, the ten floor, 17,000m2 building is open seven days a week from early morning until late evening. The new Forum opened its doors to visitors in November 2019 and welcomed its one millionth visitor in March 2020 – a week before mandatory lockdown, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Forum is an accessible meeting place for those who are curious about tomorrow's possibilities in today's world. Housing international exhibitions and Storyworld, an interactive museum for comics, animation and games, and with five cinema screens, a multifunctional auditorium, a rooftop cinema and city library, it challenges people to look at current developments with an open mind, inviting them to be amazed and inspired. 

Themes you can expect at Forum include topics in the news, technology and popular visual culture. These themes are translated into versatile, crossover programmes: talk-shows, lectures, debates, films, documentaries, courses and workshops, festivals, the collection and exhibitions. In addition, Forum offers a continuous programming of arthouse cinema. 

The building features many open, easily accessible areas that are home to the library collection. Here, visitors can relax in the comfortable seating of our study and work spaces, meeting rooms, interactive installations or enjoy something to eat and drink. At a height of 45 metres, the rooftop terrace offers fabulous views over the city. The large glass atrium offers appealing glimpses of the same view throughout the building. 

Exhibitions, events, film screenings and performances are ticketed. The majority of the building, however, including the roof terrace, is freely accessible. This is one of the reasons why Forum attracts a diversity of visitors - from (very) young to elderly, coming from the city itself, but also from the rest of the Netherlands and abroad. 

The majority of the building is freely accessible

To accentuate the versatility of Forum, we produced a free 24-hour programme for our Opening Night in November. It included an Alice in Wonderland dress up breakfast party and a continuous cinema programme with sing-a-long GREASEn, E.T., WOODSTOCK, various shorts and slow TV in the late hours. Around the building, there was live music and space to play with Virtual Reality and retro games, to dance like a robot with the international performance Inferno, to join in with talk shows or interviews with Dutch writers, or to watch the sunrise with live comments from a popular science journalist. It was a huge success: on the opening weekend alone Forum welcomed 33,000 visitors. 

Forum’s film theatre is the largest arthouse in the northern part of The Netherlands, selling approximately 150,000 tickets annually. In what is a massive building there are seven locations suitable for film screenings: we have four stylishly designed screening halls in regular use, with 175, 121, 84 and 62 seats, as well as a luxurious lounge cinema with 30 cosy armchairs, a multifunctional auditorium with 180 seats and, last but not least, a 45m high rooftop cinema with an amazing view of the city skyline. Each is equipped with the best screen, projectors and sound system. 

For more than 25 years, Forum has been affiliated with the famous International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and, more recently, with the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Every year, Forum simultaneously organises a pocket edition of the festivals, broadening their range and impact by giving residents in the north the opportunity to explore these international festival programmes closer to home. 

A pocket edition of the festivals

The beating heart of our film programme is the continuous and carefully selected flow of quality films from all around the world. Complemented by diverse special programming, Forum is always on the lookout for greater depth and different ways to welcome as many diverse people from our local society as we can. For example, with special film events for our youngest and oldest audiences, for expats and our local LGBT+ community. Forum offers challenging sessions in its weekly documentary series with introductions and discussions, determined to create a wider awareness of the world. But there’s also room for playful events like “The Dude Day”, when we celebrated the 20th anniversary of THE BIG LEBOWSKI with White Russians and an indoor bowling alley. 

Because Forum is more than just film, the movie theatre is always finding ways to connect with the international Storyworld museum and the various, prestigious international exhibitions we host, like AI: More Than Human (2019-2020) and The Magic of Aardman (2020-2021). With special film programmes and talks about Artificial Intelligence and screenings of the complete works of Aardman Animations, Forum offers its audience an extensive and diverse cultural experience, across different art forms. 

A fruitful cooperation with Picl

During mandatory lockdown, Forum started a fruitful cooperation with the Dutch streaming service Picl. We created our own digital cinema where we were able to offer a large segment of our programming online. In that way, our audience could continue to watch the quality films we would offer in our venue in their homes, which was widely appreciated. We have decided to keep our digital cinema offer when we re-open the venue because we are convinced they can coexist. We strongly believe in the power of the big screen but think streaming offers a great service for those in our wider audience who are not always able to visit our venue."

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Dirk Nijdam, General Director

https://forum.nl/

Pictures: Peter Wiersema, Stella Dekker, Siese Veenstra, Ewoud Rooks

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