Opera House Turns Gold For Diwali

The iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House tonight turned gold to mark the most widely celebrated Hindu festival, Diwali.

New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Gladys Berejiklian & Minister For Multiculturalism, Ray Williams, hosted a community reception at the Museum Of Contemporary Art to celebrate the occasion.

“Tonight, we mark an occasion which brings millions of people in Australia & around the world together by lighting the sails of Australia’s most iconic institution” Miss Berejiklian said.

“The lighting of the Sydney Opera House signifies the ancient tradition of lighting ceremonial lamps at this time, marking the eternal triumph of light over darkness”

“More and more Diwali is marked by all the communities across NSW & is one of the most celebrated and anticipated events in our multicultural calendar”

Diwali is a significant time when Indian & South Asian communities light diyas or ceremonial lamps which symbolise lifting of spiritual darkness & new beginnings.

Mister (Mr) Williams said Diwali was a time for all members of our communities to reflect on the rich cultural diversity of our state.

“The NSW Government appreciates & recognises the outstanding contribution of the Indian and South Asian community in our state” Mr Williams said.

Diwali’s central message is universal & inspires confidence and joy in our collective future as the people of NSW”

The sails of the Sydney Opera House lit up for Diwali on Tuesday the 17th of October with the support of the NSW Government.

Media Release: NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian

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Calling Creative Innovators To Be Part Of ‘Vivid Sydney’ 2018

Vivid Sydney is inviting Expressions Of Interest (EOI) from individuals & organisations across the creative industries spectrum to participate in the world’s largest festival of light, music & ideas in 2018.

Minister For Tourism & Major Events, Adam Marshall, said “Vivid Sydney brings together leading global creative innovators for 23 days & this year, attracted a record 2.33 million attendees from around the world”

“The festival celebrates its 9th anniversary in 2018 & is set to be another spectacular display of art, technology & innovation. It is undoubtedly a grand platform for artists, musicians, creative professionals, educators and businesses to showcase their expertise to local and international audiences & I encourage everyone to submit their EOI and be part of this exceptional event” he said.

The Vivid Sydney EOI invites submissions across the festival’s 3 program pillars – Light, Music & Ideas.

Vivid Light transforms the city into a kaleidoscope of colour with awe-inspiring light sculptures & large-scale architectural projections onto iconic landmarks. Artists, designers, creative industry practitioners, equipment suppliers, businesses & educational institutions are invited to present their ideas, designs, concepts & interest for inclusion in Vivid Light.

Vivid Music features an extensive program of performance, multi-genre musical collaborations, contemporary and experimental music at venues across Sydney & includes the Vivid X|CELERATE program, a partnership with the City Of Sydney which is devoted to celebrating Sydney’s blossoming musical talent by awarding grants & marketing support to venues, artists & promoters with good ideas. Submissions are being sought from across the industry including music venues, producers, promoters, industry associations & innovators interested in being part of Vivid Music.

Vivid Ideas celebrates & champions creativity & innovation; connecting audiences & creative professionals with world-class creators, makers & thinkers, to share cutting-edge insights, market and industry updates & building tools and skills for the future. Events which ignite a national conversation, bring professional practitioners to Sydney for training and development & which actively build networks throughout the Asia-Pacific region are sought for Vivid Ideas.

To register your interest in being part of Vivid Sydney 2018, visit vividsydney.com/eoi2018

Applications close at 5pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday the 7th of November 2017.

Vivid Sydney is owned, managed & produced by Destination New South Wales (NSW), the NSW Government’s tourism & major events agency. Vivid Sydney will be held from Friday the 25th of May to Saturday the 16th of June 2018.

Media Release: Vivid Sydney

Colourful Sydney NYE2017 Website Revealed

The Sydney NYE2017 website was revealed last week with less than 4 months to go. It is slightly different in design to last year’s website but it incorporates this year’s artwork for the event & includes new webpages plus an addition to the menu, different spacing & other small changes. The event’s logo was already revealed in July when ABC announced their ‘Design Your Own Firework‘ competition in conjunction with the City Of Sydney.

The updated website does not confirm the event’s theme. In fact, it gives no signal to a theme at all. Given there are no more Bridge Effects, there is a chance they could decide to stop doing themes and make the event ‘just a fireworks display’. They are, though, still trying to give the event some sort of creative touch as we’ve seen through the release of the logo in July.

For now, there is no reason to worry about the event’s theme as most years the theme isn’t confirmed until early December. It is usually just small clues revealed until then.

And the release of the logo in July did have one possible clue – 5 words placed within the logo, ‘Dance!, Radiate!, Wonder!, Hope! & Together!’. These words seem to capture the pondering of what the upcoming year will gives us when we celebrate NYE at a party in Sydney’s summer, which has been the general narrative of the event’s creatives in recent years. This interpretation of those 5 words may be incorrect – we will just have to wait & see.

But The Daily Telegraph last month revealed a small clue to this year’s theme by revealing this year’s theme to the Dawes Point Very Important Person (VIP) Viewing Area as Sunset. That event is also being styled to a beach-house. Previous years of that event have featured lanterns, deckchairs & give-away thongs so this beach-house ‘style’ could be nothing new particularly when Central Sydney implied back in May that that event will be downsized as “the large scale catering and entertainment will not be a part of the (VIP Viewing Area) plan”.

The website also confirms the event program, which is identical to last year’s, with the Sydney Opera House still a part of the Midnight Fireworks. It’s been 5 years since they re-introduced it in 2013 as part of the Sydney Opera House’s ‘decade of renewal’ so it’s likely now it will remain in the Midnight Fireworks for another 5 years at least.

A light show is confirmed to be on the Sydney Harbour Bridge again at least during the Welcome To Country but it is highly likely it will feature during the 9pm Family & Midnight Fireworks too. But what will this light show look like? Again, we’ll have to wait & see.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections are returning but so far, with no new changes – even no sign of the theme being projected onto them in different languages (though messages will still be shown in different languages).

There is also a new Ticketed Events webpage on the website for those wanting to get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of Sydney NYE they have always imagined.

Sydney NYE is also trialling new accessibility orientation sessions in the 4 days before the event. These sessions, led by an information booth volunteer, will guide individuals/groups along preferred routes from public transport to vantage points & back. This will allow for familarisation of the route by guests with the volunteer pointing out any event day-only changes. Bookings are essential as spaces are limited. Click here for more information.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) television coverage will be on ABC1, starting at 8:35pm and will feature closed captions, while internet streaming will be done via ABC iView, the ABC TV Facebook page, the ABC Australia YouTube channel  & Sydney NYE’s website. The latter, will be global, so no need to worry about geoblocking this year.

Apart from ABC iView, all internet streams will be of the Welcome To Country, 9pm Family & Midnight Fireworks only.

Let’s hope organisers have solved copyright issues so the non-Australian audience can listen to the proper fireworks soundtracks live again. The displays are not the same without them.

Opinion: Has Sydney Reached Peak ‘Vivid’?

On Tuesday, Vivid Sydney revealed this year’s attendance figures – a record 2.33 million people over the event’s 23 days but this also represented the slowest growth in the event’s history at 1% up on the previous year. In other words, just an extra 20,000 visitors.

Attendance growth has been declining since after 2014  – the year after the Sydney Harbour Bridge was introduced into the event – and by this trend, should mean future editions of the event would have smaller crowds than in previous editions which has never happened before. This is because next year could see Vivid entering negative growth for the 1st time.

Graph showing the growth of attendance year on year since the 2010 edition (2nd ever edition)

The only good news is that interstate & international visitation, at 247,712 visitors, is still growing at 35% up on last year. This should signal that the Sydney/New South Wales (NSW) market for Vivid has reached it’s peak. In regards to Sydneysiders and NSW residents, this means the number of first-time visitors to Vivid Sydney is now being outweighed by the number of visitors who think the event is no longer worth visiting.

This could be the result of several effects:

  • Crowd Levels

The crowds have been increasing year on year particularly in the ‘iconic’ area of Vivid Sydney – Circular Quay. Due to a combination of a rare East Coast Low & poor crowd control for the increased attendance after that weather event, last year’s event saw near-crowd crushes occur. Organisers have since improved their crowd management arrangements and had the fortune of no significant weather events this year too. On weekends, crowds around Circular Quay have reached uncomfortable levels resulting in the weekend visitors not returning as regularly as they should due to the experience, particularly as their availability to visit on other nights is more limited due to work and school etc. even if they are local. This is no doubt a contributing factor.

  • Terrorism Fears

Whilst the least likeliest of the reasons to be contributing, the pedestrian nature of Vivid Sydney combined with the road closures & very high crowd levels, in today’s environment, may be enough to put people off particularly once they have visited the event for the 1st time, knowing they have experienced it once in their lives, they don’t have to risk it again.

  • Innovation Perception

Vivid Sydney consists of 3 parts – Light, Music & Ideas. The latter two only make up approximately 14% of the event’s visitation. This is partly because they are ticketed niche events in limited capacity venues. Vivid Light, therefore, is the main attraction. It is a free mainstream event & in venues without capacity limits (though if crowds do increase any further, capacity limits may be needed. Good thing they already implement crowd controls on the busy nights!). No wonder it makes up 86% of Vivid’s visitation!

Vivid Music & Ideas are easy to give people reasons to return to. A new, rather than repeating, line-up of musicians & talkers always allows new audiences to experience these parts of the festival as long as the line-up participants are popular enough to sell significant amounts of tickets. They also increase the possibility of returning visitors as they already know the event’s standard.

Vivid Light, though, is more difficult. To most people, it is just lights & patterns. This is despite new narratives being told via light each year & organisers giving new artists the opportunity to shine. After all, lighting artists aren’t exactly the most well-known type of artists.

This is probably Vivid Sydney‘s biggest problem particularly when combined with the crowd levels. Why return, to suffer in the crowds, when it looks the same as last year? If they want NSW visitors to return, they need to revitalize Vivid Light. Organisers have done this in previous years with the introduction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour in 2013 (to great effect) & Taronga Zoo and the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2016 (both proving popular).

But once introduced though, they don’t visually innovate which sees audiences leaving as they ‘have seen it all before’. For example, the Lighting Of The Sails (Sydney Opera House projection show) was introduced when the event started in 2009 as a projection show of patterns. 8 years later, despite incorporating new narratives, themes & artists to the show annually, still ‘looks the same’ to the everyday person.

Making things look different would help but it will be a great challenge. If this is not solved, Sydney/NSW visitation to Vivid will decline. So let’s assume they don’t visually innovate as the case has been since 2009…

The usual strategy of expanding the event by making ‘major-mini Vivids‘ (complete with their own projection show) in new locations to solve this problem won’t work (though it will solve crowd problems to an extent if they are to iconic locations such as Bondi Beach & Manly) as, unless they visually innovate regularly, it will lead them back to where they are. It would give a brief one-off attendance boost though.

Given the event is a government event (run by the NSW Government), governments are mainly focused on:

  • Publicity (e.g. social media) – this allows them to promote Sydney to future visitors of Sydney.
  • Revenue (e.g. Music/Ideas ticketing & NSW Government-run public transport) – this goes towards event costs as well as other NSW Government expenditure.
  • Economic Benefits (e.g. gross domestic product growth etc.) – visitors to Vivid increase revenue of businesses such as accommodation, restaurants, airlines etc. which, in turn, raises revenue for other businesses along the supply chain that, again in turn, helps pay their employees & lastly in turn, raises revenue for the NSW Government through taxes etc. to spend on community services (such as Vivid & public transport), which brings the economic cycle back to full circle.

Vivid Sydney currently brings AUD$143 million to the NSW economy.

If organisers decide to focus on interstate/international visitation from now on, given it’s continued growth & increasing economic impact, a reasonable strategy would be to reduce the Vivid Light Walk to it’s 7 ‘must-sees’:

  • The Lighting Of The Sails (Sydney Opera House projection show)
  • 32 Hundred Lighting’s annual Sydney Harbour Bridge & city buildings interactive light display
  • Harbour Lights (Sydney Harbour ferries/boats lit up)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens walking trail
  • Museum Of Contemporary Art projections
  • Customs House projections
  • Cadman’s Cottage projections
  • Bangarra Dance Theatre’s annual projection show on the south-eastern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Plus the other 2 ‘must-sees’:

  • A Light For The Wild (Taronga Zoo)
  • Darling Harbour’s multimedia show

This means all the smaller light exhibits (about 50 in total) along the Vivid Light Walk would disappear, allowing more focus on the internationally iconic light displays & more space for crowds to flow. These smaller light exhibits are targeted more towards Sydneysiders so if organisers want Sydney/NSW visitation to be stable in the short term, another reasonable strategy would be to give these smaller light exhibits new homes in the Sydney suburbs. Chatswood would be a great place to start to test this out but it could be expanded to include certain ferry wharves along Sydney Harbour with it’s nearby parks/public spaces:

  • Manly
  • Parramatta
  • Watsons Bay
  • Cockatoo Island
  • Milsons Point
  • North Sydney
  • Mosman Bay
  • Birchgrove
  • Cabarita
  • Kissing Point

Having them near ferry wharves allows them to be linked to the central Vivid hub of Circular Quay by Harbour Lights. In the end, it depends which Sydneysiders like Vivid the most – is it the ones who live on the Sydney Harbour foreshore, the ones who live in the eastern suburbs or the ones who live in the western suburbs? If they are in places far away from Sydney Harbour like in Campbelltown, maybe they can incorporate Vivid into the rail services with a Light Express or Light Rail (pun intended)? Connecting railway stations could be decorated with lights & maybe some train carriages could be spruced up with special lights for the occasion. Other locations that could accommodate the small light exhibits could include:

  • Fort Denison
  • Other Sydney Harbour Islands
  • Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo

We said earlier that moving to new locations would not work but just to emphasize what we said earlier, that is only if they do not visually innovate those locations each year so if they move the smaller light exhibits to the above locations, it should work as long as new small light exhibits that look completely different from previous years’ exhibits are put on display each year.

Given it is a NSW Government event, smaller crowds can provide incredible political ammunition particularly when the event is spectacular, extravagant & expensive (Vivid costs nearly AUD$8 million – slightly more expensive than Sydney New Year’s Eve). It also does not help when climate change, electricity prices & economic downturns are political issues as they increase the motivation for political opponents to attack the NSW Government for producing an event that less and less people attend.

As long as Vivid Sydney attracts sufficient positive publicity & produces a profit or economic growth that outweighs the event’s costs, the NSW Government is going to support it even if attendance declines. If Vivid does not do one of them or crowds begin to decline, political opponents will begin to argue that:

  1. The NSW Government mismanages events or;
  2. People have forgotten or are going to forgot it’s existence hence argument 4 (below) or;
  3. People do not care about it anymore hence argument 4 (below) or;
  4. It is a waste of taxpayers money.

If crowds begin to decline next year, political debate could begin. Of course, like I said earlier, visual innovation is key here & could allow all that to be avoided. But if the status quo remains unchanged, crowds will decline, likely to result in major changes that do not help the event regrow (such as less lights) especially if interstate/international visitation declines too. The latter would guarantee all the arguments to be thrown at the NSW Government as it allows the failure of all key factors for government events. The NSW Government, unless they visually innovate the event, would, as a result of growing pressure, withdraw Vivid‘s funds resulting in it’s obvious cancellation.

Vivid Sydney Attendance
Graph showing Vivid Sydney’s attendance to date, our predicted attendance rates & what the attendance trend would have been had attendances not grow even further in 2013 when the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour were incorporated into the event for the 1st time

At the current rate, Vivid may cease to exist in 4 years. We hope not. So if you are not from Australia or from interstate & wish to experience Vivid Sydney in all it’s glory, it’s probably time for you to check it out. Just in case the lights switch off…permanently.

And if you are from Sydney or NSW, try & support Vivid by attending next year (particularly if you have never been) or encourage your friends/family members who haven’t been before to go & see it for the 1st time. It is a truly iconic Australian event, a Sydney Spectacular. Otherwise, you must be over Vivid so prepare for a eventual return to Sydney’s dim & empty winters unless, of course, organisers revitalize the event beyond our wildest dreams leaving us no choice but to visit again!

So Sydney, are you really over Vivid? It seems like you are.

If you are from Sydney or NSW, tell us what would bring you back to Vivid. Is it more security, better crowd management or just something new and worthy of seeing? Tell us in the feedback form below:

NSW To Boost Japanese Tourist Numbers: Global Launch For ‘Vivid’ 2018 Dates

New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has invited the largest ever Japanese travel trade delegation to visit Vivid Sydney 2018 in a bid to build on the record number of tourists who took part in this year’s festival.

Japan is the 6th largest market for international visitors to the state. In the year ending in March 2017, NSW welcomed 165,000 Japanese visitors who stayed 3.1 million nights & contributed an estimated AUD$339 million to the NSW visitor economy.

Ms Berejiklian made the announcement in Tokyo overnight at the global launch of the Vivid Sydney 2018 dates.

“We are seeing a resurgence of Japanese visitors to our shores & we want to see that grow even further” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Not only is this great for forging closer ties with Japan but more tourists coming to NSW is vitally important for our local economy”

Ms Berejiklian announced that the NSW Government’s tourism & major events agency, Destination NSW, had invited a record 50 Japanese travel agents & wholesalers to experience Vivid Sydney 2018.

“This will be the largest ever Japanese travel trade delegation to be invited to come & experience Vivid Sydney first hand & then return home to sell Vivid Sydney packages for 2019” the Premier said.

In 2017, 5,062 Vivid Sydney packages were sold to visitors from Japan, up from 4,710 packages in 2016 (a 7.5% increase).

Ms Berejiklian revealed a record 2.33 million people attended this year’s Vivid festival.

Vivid Sydney 2017 attracted 247,712 national & international visitors, an increase of around 35% on 2016. These visitors stayed a total of 804,399 nights (up 30%) & contributed over AUD$143 million (up 30%) to the NSW economy.

Vivid Sydney 2018 will be held from May 25th to June 16th.

Media Release: Vivid Sydney

Sydney NYE Logo Revealed As ABC Returns For 5th Consecutive Broadcast

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been awarded the TV broadcast rights for this year’s Sydney NYE event.

This, along with this year’s Sydney NYE logo & possible theme, were confirmed following the release of details for the ABC ME ‘Design Your Own Firework‘ Competition:

ABC is well-known for their 2 controversial broadcasts of the event in 2013 and 2014. Their 2015 & 2016 broadcasts were a huge but not perfect improvement. The 2016 broadcast saw the full Sydney NYE broadcast on terrestrial television in high definition in Australia for the 1st time since the late 2000’s. The 2017 broadcast is expected to be roughly the same but again, we do hope for a little more enhancement of the broadcast.

Details and duration of the Sydney NYE2017 TV broadcast have not been revealed as yet but the 9pm Family Fireworks & the ABC ME ‘Design Your Own Firework‘ Competition winner have been confirmed as features of the broadcast. The Midnight Fireworks, whilst not confirmed, are all but guaranteed.

The logo of this year’s Sydney NYE event (at top of article) was also revealed as part of the competition. The theme has not been confirmed but the logo does provide a clue, which possibly could be the theme – 5 words placed within the logo, ‘Dance!, Radiate!, Wonder!, Hope! & Together!’. These words seem to capture the pondering of what the upcoming year will gives us when we celebrate NYE at a party in Sydney’s summer, which has been the general narrative of the event’s creatives in recent years.

The main part of the logo also seems to represent a painting of Sydney NYE as you can see representations of the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge, a ferry, a cockatoo, partygoers, music, the beach, water, fauna, fireworks, a fork & lots of eyes. The latter presumably to represent the attention Sydney receives on NYE. The orange background presumably represents the summer climate.

This interpretation of those 5 words & the logo as a whole may be incorrect – we will just have to wait & see.

The Bridge Effect is highly unlikely to make a reappearance this year with another generic light show expected on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. How can they improve on last year’s? (See the video below for last year’s) Last year’s was done to perfection! That light show was pretty much a Bridge Effect of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! (Compared to NYE2015 when that’s what they tried to do and well, didn’t – they just put searchlights on the roadway)

There is a possibility the event may become more generic in the future as a result of having no more Bridge Effects. This year’s event may give us a more clearer idea of the direction the City Of Sydney are taking with the event in the future. Hopefully, the really creative, unique and constantly-changing themes of the past shall return. And more importantly, hopefully the traditional Bridge Effect returns too!

Here are the other things that have already been announced about Sydney NYE2017:

But anyway, all that is left to be announced is the Creative Ambassador & a confirmation of the theme plus any special details about this year’s event such as the type of light show. Can you guess who/what it will be? We’ll just have to wait & see – expect theme confirmation in September when the Sydney NYE website should be updated for this year’s event.

Kids To Get Cracking on New Year’s Eve Firework Design

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) ME and the City Of Sydney are encouraging Australian children to let their imaginations explode as the ‘Design Your Own Firework’ competition returns for the 6th year running.

1 lucky child will see their design come to life over Sydney Harbour during the spectacular 9pm Family Fireworks, which is watched by millions of people around Australia. The lucky youngster will also be part of ABC’s Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) broadcast, pushing the ‘start button’ on the 9pm Family Fireworks display.

The ‘Design Your Own Firework’ competition is open to Aussie children aged 16 years & under. ABC ME’s Behind The News (BTN) officially opened the competition this morning during their 10am broadcast. To launch this competition, BTN investigated how fireworks are created with a special interview with the mastermind behind the Sydney NYE fireworks, Fortunato Foti.

City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said it was an unique opportunity for a budding young artist to be part of Sydney’s world renowned NYE celebrations.

“This is Australia’s night of the year, enjoyed by millions around the world & for a child to be part of this wonderful evening is a once in a lifetime opportunity” the Lord Mayor said.

“I can not wait to see the winning entry light up the sky on NYE”

ABC Director Of Television, David Anderson, said: “The Sydney NYE fireworks displays is a highly anticipated event & one of the best in the world. The ABC is thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity once again. With such a sought after prize, the challenge is on for Aussie kids to send in some amazing & unique designs”

To enter, kids are invited to put their imaginations to the test & draw an unique firework design. The design demonstrating the most creativity, effort & potential to be reproduced as a firework within the display will be announced as the winner.

ABC ME’s News To Me program will announce the winner on Sunday the 17th of September 2017.

The winner will receive a trip to Sydney for a family of 4 that includes tickets to the Sydney NYE official VIP (Very important person) viewing area at Dawes Point & the chance to be part of the live ABC Sydney NYE broadcast at 9pm.

The winning design will be brought to life by Foti International Fireworks, the company that has helped deliver Sydney’s spectacular NYE fireworks displays since 1997. Master pyrotechnician, Fortunato Foti, says bringing a child’s firework design to life is an exciting challenge.

His advice to budding designers is to look at the world around you for inspiration. “Design comes from imagination. Sometimes it is just about looking at the environment such as a simple flower & seeing if it can be turned into a firework” Mister Foti said.

“I love seeing what kids’ imaginations come up with. I can not wait to see what designs they come up with this year” Mr Foti said.

How To Enter:

  • Put your grand idea down on paper
  • Add colour to your design to bring it to life
  • Upload your entry by 5pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)) Monday the 21st of August
  • Check out our easy step-by-step guide & upload your entry at http://www.abc.net.au/nye

Entries open today, Tuesday the 25th of July 2017 & close 5pm (AEST) Monday the 21st of August 2017. You must be under 16 years of age to enter.

Media Release: Australian Broadcasting Corporation