People from across Glasgow and beyond are being welcomed into a brand-new community space at the University of Glasgow with a two-week festival of free events.
The University’s newly-opened Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre, or ARC, will play host next month to the ARCadia Festival of Ideas, featuring brass bands, a retro video game arcade, comedy and drag shows, an outdoor ceilidh, art exhibits, a virtual reality celebration of Robert Burns, and much more.
ARCadia, which runs from Friday 16 September until Friday 30 September, aims to establish the ARC as a significant contributor to everyday life in Glasgow’s west end.
The ground floor of the ARC, which will later this year include a café and restaurant, is open to the general public.
The ARC will play host to more than 65 free, all-ages events during the festival, hosted by students and staff from the University of Glasgow and community partners.
Those events include tours of the ARC during the Glasgow Doors Open weekend on September 17th and 18th, and a family-focused programme the weekend after. Local brass band, Brass, Aye? will perform in the ARC’s beautiful outdoor space on Sunday 18th.

The ARC will host events every evening, including movie screenings, comedy shows and live music for an adult audience. On the opening night, the atrium will be transformed into a cinema for a screening of 90s classic ‘Mars Attacks!’, followed by a discussion with scientists working on Martian research.
Local community groups will contribute to the festival, including childrens’ storytelling sessions curated by The Children’s Wood, hands-on stalls from Partick Community Growing Project and The Annexe Healthy Living Centre. Music collective Hen Hoose will curate an evening of music for the closing night.
Jane Cowie from The Annexe Healthy Living Centre said: “Having something where the University is welcoming the community is absolutely massive. The combination of the community, university and research is wow.”
The ARC will also platform voices from communities , who are underserved or underrepresented in universities, with events involving the Maryhill Integration Network, local charities, and the Africa in Motion Film Festival. There will also be events led by LGBTQ+ and Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater communities.
Many events will connect the public with the University of Glasgow’s world-leading research. The £116m Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre, which sits on the site of the former Western Infirmary, is home to a multidisciplinary group of researchers tackling a whole range of global issues, from climate change to healthcare.
A wide range of research will be on show during the festival, including the University’s response to the pandemic. COVID 19: A Community Conversation’ will create space for the university and local community to share their experiences of the pandemic, from personal stories to the research response. This will include a specially commissioned theatre piece and exhibition
Visitors can also expect to hear more about using quantum technologies to monitor healthcare, ultrasound, social robots, gender inequality in STEM, African film, fake news, blood borne virus research, the art of Whistler, Colombian river stories, dementia, the return of salmon to the river Clyde, healthy ageing, and palliative care.
ARCadia Festival Manager Dr Zara Gladman said: “The ARC is a stunning new building but it’s the people who will bring it to life. ARCadia is an invitation to the whole community to get involved, and this is reflected in our diverse programme. At ARCadia you can meet a cute robot, watch comedy and drag, dip into the latest health research, explore virtual reality and even dance in an outdoor ceilidh. 
“Many events are being led in partnership with groups outside of the university, from charities to local businesses and artists. The ARC is a new focal point for Glasgow to come together, share ideas and shape the future of the research happening here. ARCadia is just the beginning – and I hope to see you there!”

To view the full ARCadia programme and book tickets, visit the ARCadia Festival of Ideas website.

Some of the highlights of the ARCadia festival include: 

Events relating to the ARC 

  • The ARC: Past, Present & Future, 17 Sept (talk as part of Doors Open Day) – This talk and discussion will get behind the scenes of the University of Glasgow’s exciting new Advanced Research Centre, located in the city’s West end, previously occupied by the Western Infirmary. We’ll explore the history of the site and the design and architecture of the new building which is open to everyone. We’ll also share some of the cutting-edge research happening there and how communities can get involved. Includes a performance of ‘arc’, a specially-commissioned poem to celebrate the opening of the building, by UNESCO artist-in-residence Tawona Sithole. 
  • Doors Open at the ARC, 17-18 Sept  – Linking to Doors Open Weekend, this is an exciting extravaganza of hands-on activities, poetry, music and exhibits for all ages. Get behind the scenes of this amazing new building, visit labs not normally open to the public and browse stalls led by our researchers and community partners.  

Events about research 

  • COVID-19: A Community Conversation, 28 Sept – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all. At this event, we’ll take a moment to reflect on the past two years, consider how our lives have changed, and what the future may hold. Learn about the University’s vast research response, as well as the human stories. Watch a specially-commissioned theatre piece inspired by the university community’s experiences of the pandemic. Meet remote-learning robots, view virus structures using Virtual Reality and browse the Scotland in Lockdown exhibition. Join the conversation and share your own stories. 
  • Glasgow Research Community Meets with Public and Patients: Long COVID, 28 Sept – also on the 28 Sept and linking to covid. The MVLS Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) steering group would like to invite members of the public from a diverse range of patient and community group to talk about research in the University of Glasgow.    PPI in research is where our research is carried out ‘with’ and ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ of ‘for’ them. Hear from patients, community members and researchers experiencing and researching Long COVID. 
  • ARCade night, 22 Sept  – The ARC becomes an ARC-ade for the night with an adults-only evening of retro games, in partnership with R-Cade. Learn about the latest research in gaming, from costume design to gender bias and the social value of games.  
  • Other events will feature research topics as diverse as: using quantum technologies to monitor healthcare, ultrasound, social robots, gender inequality in STEM, African film, fake news, blood borne virus research, the art of Whistler, Colombian river stories, dementia, the return of salmon to the river Clyde, healthy ageing, and palliative care  

Unusual events 

  • ARCeilidh, 17 Sep – making the most of the new public outdoor space, outside the ARC – in partnership with LUC who designed the outdoor space, and local arts producer Halo Arts 
  • ARC XR, various dates – did you know the West end now has its own custom built Virtual Reality suite? A number of events and activities will take place in the ARC XR facility. Immerse yourself in a virtual world of 3D-data spanning the University’s cutting edge medical and health research. Meet some of the researchers leading research and discover why visualising data in different ways can be so important.  
  • 16 Sept – For our opening night, The ARC transforms into a cinema for a screening of Tim Burton’s cult classic ‘Mars Attacks!’ (1996). The film will be followed by a discussion with Mars researchers and film experts to explore the movie’s science, satire and cultural significance. Ack! Ack! Ack!”
  • ARCadia spatial audio concert / 4M label release party, 20 Sept – A night of innovative new spatial audio work by Glasgow-based and international artists working across disciplines, including a specially commissioned piece presented in collaboration with Scottish Women in Music (SWIM). Join us for the first ever immersive sound experience in the ARC, and the unveiling of the first releases on UofG’s new net label, 4M. The concert will showcase new innovations in spatial audio from Glasgow and beyond, demonstrating the potential of the ARC for presenting dynamic and impactful immersive audio work. Open to anyone with an interest in electronic music, digital art, soundscapes, VR/AR, and immersive storytelling.    

Events linking to Glasgow or involving Glasgow communities 

  • The archaeology of Glasgow’s recent past (including Glasgow Garden Festival), 29 Sept – Archaeology is usually associated with very old sites and ancient things, but in fact it is a set of techniques that can be used to shed surprising light on human actions from any period of time, whether 2000BC or AD2000. Archaeologist Kenny Brophy will showcase the benefits of doing an archaeology of the recent past, including 20th century graffiti on a prehistoric site, a stone circle built twice in 1979 and 2019, and the site of the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival. This work has been done in collaboration with local and community councils, housing associations, community groups, schools and the great Glaswegian public. Combining excavation and survey with archival research and interviews, this talk will shed light on some of hidden and forgotten aspects of Glasgow’s very recent past – and the audience will be invited to pitch ideas for new contemporary archaeology projects in and around the city! 
  • Doors Open Day see Past, Present & Future talk already mentioned about The ARC, which is an important new building for the city of Glasgow.  
  • The Big Weekend, 24 September – Storytelling, science, music performance, art, craft and hands-on exhibits for all ages at our big family day out. Learn about everything from tick-borne viruses to quantum physics. Meet a cute robot or brush up on your Spanish or Italian.   

Events involving performance 

  • Tawona Sithole’s poem ‘arc’, as part of The ARC: Past, Present & Future, 17 Sept (talk as part of Doors Open Day) 
  • Brass Aye?, 18 Sept – Glasgow’s vibrant (and shiny!) community brass band share a special performance for ARCadia 
  • The Diversity Quota, 21 Sept – An incredible and cracking concoction of comedy delights await you in this hilarious rib-tickling show! This incredible inclusive night of comedy features a cracking selection of comedy from across Scotland’s rich tapestry of talent. This special show for ARCadia will feature Live Comedy, Prizes, and more!  
  • Drag 101, 27 Sept – Drag 101 is a cutting-edge drag show hosted by Glasgow’s dysfunctional dynamic duo Dharma Geddon & Alana Duvey. Featuring guest performances by fellow artists from across the performing spectrum. This relaxed and chilled night is a fan favourite among Scottish Drag audiences and is a safe space for all.  It debuted in 2016 as part of PG Welcome Fortnight, and has now become a staple of the Scottish Drag scene. 
  • In Our Shoes poetry showcase, 25 Sept – Women from Maryhill Integration Network in collaboration with PhD researcher Katherine Mackinnon, have prepared for you a mini exhibition and a collection of poems. These beautiful and inclusive pieces will explore experiences of displacement and everyday life. This activity will showcase a great example of researcher-community organisation collaboration.