Opinion: Fireworks Controversy May Affect Sydney NYE & Australia Day In Sydney Due To Bushfire Risk

UPDATE (14/11/2019): The Australian reports Transport for NSW has temporarily banned on-water fireworks while the week-long state of emergency remains in place. Transport for NSW said the granting of licences for on-water fireworks displays will be reviewed again on Monday.

A fireworks display held last night for Daikan, an air conditioning company, on Sydney Harbour has stirred controversy in Sydneysiders due to an exemption given despite a total fire ban in force for Sydney and a state of emergency declared for New South Wales.

The display, 8 minutes in duration and held by Howards Fireworks, was labelled “one of the best fireworks displays of the year” by Twitter user Sydney Fireworks, who follows all Sydney fireworks displays (not just the major ones like us).

Worse of all (no offense Sydney Fireworks), it coincidentally seems to be the most praised non-Spectacular fireworks display on Sydney Harbour that Sydney Fireworks has ever reviewed.

9 News reports the display was booked by Daikin, an air conditioning company. Ironically, most air conditioning can contribute to global warming and thus add to further and more intense bushfires.

Clearly, this fireworks display could have been revoked out of respect. It was just a corporate function.

7 News also reported NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the timing of the display was questionable.

“It shows a little bit of a lack of respect for our country folk who are going through hell on earth at this time,” she said.

A NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) spokesperson told 10 daily it’s likely the NSW Government applied to the NSW RFS Commissioner for an exemption to proceed with the fireworks.

The exemption was given in the event weather conditions had improved even though the total fire ban lasted until Midnight and high fire danger warnings were issued.

Sydney Harbour is also surrounded by bushland. The city itself is surrounded by bushland. Sydney, as recent as 1994, has been at risk of being surrounded by bushfires, leaving the city isolated from the rest of the world.

Andrew Howard, director of Howard Fireworks told Sydney Spectaculars that exemptions are quite common with hundreds issued during the fire season if it is deemed safe to do so. He also told AAP it wasn’t his call to proceed with Wednesday’s event.

“It wasn’t my decision to proceed. I was contracted to provide the services for the event”

Mr Howard said he would not have gone ahead with the display if it was up to him, knowing the “effect on the entire community” the bushfires had.

“It certainly could’ve been (deemed insensitive) to people who feel that it was. I totally respect their position on it,” he said.

But he reiterated Wednesday’s pyrotechnics were lawful, having been granted an exemption from the total fire ban.

RFS and Fire & Rescue NSW both confirmed to 9News the exemption had been granted for the event after risk assessments.

The fact it was a Sydney Harbour display at a time when fire warnings & bans were issued for Sydney itself should have been a sign of impending controversy, especially given the scale & tragedy of recent fires, which is deserving of not applying the exemption even if weather conditions were fine.

The last major exemption given was for Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) 2001 – ‘Of Beauty Rich & Rare: Australia – The Land’, which was held in the middle of Black Christmas & a total fire ban. The theme that year was, coincidentally, suitable as it was an outback/country theme. It highlighted a reminder of the lives of those suffering from bushfires.

However, it’s international status didn’t stop controversy breaking out. With increasing risk of worse bushfires due to global warming, a forecast predicting one of NSW’s worst bushfire seasons to continue and one of the largest bushfires burning since the 1980’s, controversy breaking out on a regular fireworks display on Sydney Harbour provokes questions on how large a future controversy will be.

Sydney NYE1993, 1997 – ‘Masquarade’ & 2005 – ‘Heart Of The Harbour’ were also held during a total fire ban. However, there was no major NSW bushfires burning at those times (apart from 1993 as you can tell above), which is a critical difference to the current situation. We don’t know if there were any total fire bans before NYE1993. It should be noted Sydney NYE1993 & 1997 – ‘Masquarade’ were not when Sydney’s fireworks were internationally renowned. However, they are internationally renowed now so 2001’s Sydney NYE edition is the benchmark for fire conditions. However, the 1993 bushfires were about twice as worse as 2001.

The decision to provide an exemption for this display was accidentally careless in not considering the implications of a controversy on the major fireworks displays of Sydney NYE & Australia Day Live, both held in peak bushfire season. Though it is understandable that future major events are not the fire services’ main concern, it could have been revoked out of concern for controversy in light of the recent bushfires.

Theming cannot be used as a justification for Sydney NYE being held this time as this year’s event and for the next 2 years has no theme. It essentially is a ‘party’ theme and partying while the world burns around you would be considered highly distasteful.

Given last night’s controversy, if bushfire conditions are similar or worse to Black Christmas in the week leading up to Sydney NYE, public pressure could grow larger than anticipated due to today’s controversy.

In the event public pressure is too great, it is expected the Midnight Fireworks would be cancelled outright while one or both 9pm & Midnight displays (though now joined) would be postponed to Australia Day. The 9pm Family Fireworks display may be postponed on the night to a time no later than 10:30pm. The fire tug display, which also opens this year’s edition at 6:50pm, may also be cancelled if it is needed for firefighting purposes. It usually sprays water too during this display, which might be consider distasteful given any firefighting efforts, the drought & water restrictions. The aerial display by Matt Hall could be cancelled too if there is high air pollution from smoke,  reducing visibility.

The only times Sydney NYE has been cancelled out right was in 1987 & 1988 due to a mass murder in 1986 after a decade of escalating violence, which they spent the 7 years prior trying to resolve.

In 2002, the 9pm Family Fireworks were cancelled due to 90km/h+ winds.

It is possible a charity fund could be set up as part of the live media broadcasts as a trade off. It was last done for NYE2004 – ‘Reflections On Australiana’ for victims of the Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami. However, it would conflict with this year’s charity partner, Refugee Council Of Australia. It could though provide an educational opportunity for the charity partner to emphasise the potential migration of refugees from global warming events such as more frequent and intense bushfires.

In the 2004 edition, a minute’s silence, which was also broadcast, was held prior to the start of the 9pm Family Fireworks’ 10 second countdown. While 6 people have already died from this year’s bushfires, we hope the death toll doesn’t increase further closer to NYE, necessitating a minute’s silence. The Black Christmas bushfires had zero deaths.

It should be noted Sydney New Year’s Eve is a carbon neutral event.

A City Of Sydney spokesman declined to comment on hypothetical situations. However, we believe it is highly likely they have a plan in place. Sydney NYE is known to have fireworks displays planned to be postponed or cancelled (Midnight) if winds are too high. Also, good event management means planning for every scenario including total fire bans, media controversies, bushfires on Sydney Harbour foreshore land, fire danger warnings etc. particularly given the event is essentially a fireworks event.

The City Of Sydney spokesman though did say:

We’ve all been deeply saddened by the destructive bushfires ravaging NSW and Queensland.

The City of Sydney extends its sympathy to those affected and also acknowledges the hard work of the NSW Rural Fire Service and all emergency service responders who have saved countless lives and homes.

Sydney New Year’s Eve is one of the world’s biggest public events.

The event attracts more than one million people to the harbour foreshore, more than one billion global viewers and generates more than $130 million into the NSW economy annually.

The event unites people from all over Australia and the world, with a message of hope, happiness and celebration.

A large proportion of the New Year’s Eve budget is spent on crowd safety measures.

The City donated more than $200,000 to drought affected communities in 2018.

 On Monday night Council will consider a Lord Mayoral Minute that if approved will see the City donate $300,000 to the Country Women’s Association of NSW Drought Aid appeal, $300,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Services, and $20,000 to WIRES to assist wildlife recovery and rehoming.

The Minute will also see the City match staff donations to bushfire and drought appeals dollar for dollar, and offer in-kind support to firefighting efforts, bushfire relief, and post-emergency clean-up, such as water trucks, other council service vehicles and staff.

Australia Day In Sydney also reached a new level of significance last year and if precedent is followed, fireworks would be cancelled outright if bushfire conditions are just as bad.

Australia Day In Sydney fireworks in 2003, which were the postponed Sydney NYE2002 – ‘The World’s Celebration In Union’ 9pm Family Fireworks, were cancelled due to a total fire ban and out of respect for firefighters, on Government orders.

We would advise people who have brought tickets for Sydney NYE or Australia Day events to check their refund policies in the event the iconic fireworks are cancelled or postponed to Australia Day as the City Of Sydney is the official organiser providing the fireworks for free. Tickets are usually only refunded if the actual function you are attending is cancelled or below par – not if the fireworks are cancelled or below par. Pirrama Park Wharf is probably the only exception to this so far. People who have bought tickets in National Park areas especially should be cautious. Keep an eye on the news in the week before NYE for any bushfire-related updates.

Sydney Fireworks reports that a Sydney Harbour display for tomorrow night has been postponed for 13 days while Darling Harbour’s weekly fireworks have been cancelled:

Australia Day In Sydney & the Rural Fire Service have been contacted for enquiries.

Disclaimer: Sydney Spectaculars is not associated with Sydney New Year’s Eve organisers, the City Of Sydney, nor Australia Day In Sydney organisers, NSW Government Department Of Premier & Cabinet. As of writing, the fireworks are still planned to go ahead. This is just an opinion article warning of the risks the bushfires may bring plus stating our opinion that last night’s fireworks display causing controversy did not help.

One-Off Sydney Harbour Bridge Southern Pylon Projections For ‘The Everest’ Barrier Draw Reveal Confirmed As Racing NSW Announces Intention To Relocate Show Annually

The Sydney Morning Herald has confirmed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons will be used as a one-off on Tuesday night for the announcement of the result of the Barrier Draw for The Everest horse race.

It is expected a light show on the arch using the Vivid Sydney lights will occur as well as a one-off generic light show on the north-east pylon will occur too.

The projection show though will be held at 7pm, most likely at the south-east pylon only, with the barrier draw conducted in secret earlier after betting on the race is halted at 5pm for about 2 hours. After the barrier draw is done, the projections will be finalised for display. This happened last year, though in different circumstances.

Racing NSW Chief Executive Officer, Peter V’landys told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Barrier Draw reveal on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be a one-off as it was on the Sydney Opera House a year ago.

This would be of comfort to some people, who were against last year’s projection show due to horse racing’s gambling & animal rights issues.

However, what is more surprising is his revealing of plans to rotate the projection show annually to new locations.

“There are so many great places in Sydney that would make a spectacular backdrop for The Everest barrier draw, we will move it again next year,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“This race is innovative and fresh and we want to keep it that way. It’s why we have done barrier draws at places that haven’t been used before”

“The draw will be memorable I’m sure on Tuesday night and go around the world again.”

Many places are used in Sydney for projections for various events, most notably for Vivid Sydney. This would mean the Barrier Draw projection show could become an annual event for another decade, assuming The Everest is still held.

This may concern some people who consider the projection show an “advertisement” as it will treat all possible Sydney landmarks useable for projections as a “billboard”. We believe this year’s projection show is not an advertisement though as it follows the history and nature of Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections.

Unless a new location is used, the most likely location for next year’s Barrier Draw would be the Museum Of Contemporary Art. It’s the next largest projection site in Sydney. Other possible locations in future years include:

  • Customs House
  • Cadman’s Cottage
  • Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Taronga Zoo’s Main Entrance
  • MLC Centre in Martin Place
  • The Concourse at Chatswood
  • Carlton & United Brewery at Central Park
  • Central Station Clock Tower
  • Coney Island (Luna Park Sydney)
  • St Mary’s Cathedral
  • Sydney Town Hall
  • Argyle Cut

We hope Racing NSW uses the Randwick Racecourse grandstand before any of the other locations due to the recent controversy. The Randwick Racecourse grandstand has never been used for projections as far as we are aware.

Unlike the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons and to an extent, the Sydney Opera House, most of the locations listed above have been used only for artistic purposes as part of Vivid Sydney and not for non-artistic events or promotions.

Exceptions include Customs House in 2013 featuring a one-night Doctor Who 50th Anniversary projection show, Argyle Cut this year featured a Pixar-themed projection show at Vivid Sydney, the Australian National Maritime Museum permanently has maritime-themed projections except on special occasions & St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney Town Hall have been used for annual Christmas-themed projections.

Last year, when the Sydney Opera House refused permission for ‘The Everest’ to hold it’s barrier draw through projections on the iconic sails, mainly due to a clear advertisement at the projection show’s conclusion:

Shows the part of the projection show that is an advertisement
‘The Everest’ 2018 Proposed Sydney Opera House Projection Show Conclusion
Image: Fairfax Media

However, while the projection show was amended, it was preceded by a fiery media ‘interview’ between radio host Alan Jones and Sydney Opera House Trust CEO Louise Herron:

It concluded with Alan Jones saying “I will be speaking to Gladys Berejiklian in about 5, 3 minutes”. Gladys Berejiklian, Premier Of NSW, hastingly got the projection show to be approved 9 hours later through Ministerial discretion.

This, as well as the general content of the show, sparked massive protests and petitions and worldwide headlines.

Last month, it was revealed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons were proposed to be used for a 2nd edition of the show. This, once again, draw an angry response though not on the scale of last year mainly because firstly, it wasn’t yet approved and secondly, the circumstances have been vastly different (no media-politics links & advertisements). While no clear advertisement is expected to feature in the show (while it does still have some sort of promotional value), there have been a couple of projections in recent weeks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons that are similar or are advertisements.

One was for the Rugby League World Cup 9’s, which was government-approved and one was for the re-release of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. The latter we can’t confirm if it was government-approved though we expect it was highly likely a form of guerrilla marketing (even though it was on the Bridge for a minimum of 26 minutes).

We expect Tuesday night at 7pm will have some sort of protest as it will no doubt draw the ire of some people though we expect it won’t be on the scale of last year. However, the news of making the projection show an annual feature rotating to a different landmark each year may ignite protests again.

We expect The Everest Barrier Draw will be broadcast live again this year on the Sky Racing Thoroughbred Central channel.

We also expect a function will be held simultaneous to the projection show at the nearby Overseas Passenger Terminal, which hosted last year’s barrier draw and the recent Dally M Awards, that were simultaneously projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-east pylon. It should be noted the Dally M Awards are the National Rugby League (NRL)’s award nights, the NRL is linked to the Australian Rugby League Commission, where Peter V’landys is also currently Chairman-elect.

Racing NSW had already been contacted for comment prior to this news breaking as part of our following of this story. They are yet to respond.

We have also asked most of the possible future projection sites for comment.

This post updates.

Advertising Definitely Done On Sydney Harbour Bridge A Few Days Ago – It’s A Dark Mark

This time last year, Sydney was in arguing about advertising on the Sydney Opera House with regards to The Everest horse race.

Last Monday, we published concerns the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-east pylon was being used for advertising the Rugby League World Cup 9’s inside their NRL Grand Final Week celebratory projections.

And in the next 4 days, we expect The Everest horse race will make national (or international) headlines again as Racing NSW announces they will host the barrier draw of the race on the southern Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons (most likely just the south-east pylon).

So why has Bloomsbury, a famous book publisher, decide to do this last Tuesday night?:

It was done as part of a social media campaign where the fictitious Death Eaters’ Dark Mark appears on Australian landmarks as part of a promotion for a re-release of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. The book was first released in 2000, 19 years ago.

We can confirm through webcam images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that the projections were done for at least 25 minutes. It may have been even longer as the webcam stopped at 11pm at night.

This most likely is a form of guerrilla marketing but in the end, why did they choose to do this in what most likely will be a controversy-ridden week about the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & the concept of advertising?

We can’t confirm whether approval was given by the NSW Government for this projection.

Last year, in the midst of The Everest controversy, The Chaser, a satirical comedy group well known for their APEC Summit – Sydney 2007 motorcade stunt did something similar by promoting ‘advertiser’ (actually, radio host) Alan Jones’ phone number by projecting it onto buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, NSW Parliament and even Alan Jones’ own home (which is located in a well-known Sydney building). However, that was clearly for satirical comedy purposes.

Protests banner’s have often gone up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, even this week, clearly without approval. However, it is a form of protest, not a commercial advertisement though they were fined for putting an advertisment up, which in some respect it was. It’s not even a form of Government-approved advertisement on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for an organisation of a currently-being-protested cause. So protests aren’t of great concern for the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s integrity though sometimes those protests can be a huge inconvenience when not government-approved.

Bloomsbury’s projections are clearly a commercial advertisement, guerrilla or not and is using the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons as a billboard regardless if approval was given or not.

Bloomsbury should have know better given the current climate for this sort of activity.

Bloomsbury Sydney has been contacted for comment.

Was Advertising On A Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Technically Done Last Night?

For the past 8 nights, the NRL Grand Final Week has been celebrated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge more than ever before.

The NRL has done projection mapping on both pylons for NRL Grand Final Week between 2011 & 2014 and only on the south-east pylon in 2010 & 2019. Mostly, these just consisted of celebratory images of the season past or of current players from the Grand Final teams.

Unexpectedly after a 4 year absence, these projections returned for 2019. The 2019 edition was larger than ever before incorporating the lighting used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid Sydney with additional lighting used on the north-east pylon, which was also inadvertently beamed onto the roadway below the pylon for about half the past week.

After the Grand Final teams were announced on Tuesday, that night’s projections featured each player in both the NRL and NRLW Grand Final teams as announced.

Wednesday night saw a real-time unveiling of the 2019 Dally M winners being projected. This was just simultaneous to the actual announcement.

Saturday night, after the Grand Final’s conclusion saw a projection of the Sydney Roosters lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy (obviously from last year’s win) on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, indicating to Sydney who won the match. The Bridge was lit in the team’s colours too.

Sunday night, however, saw 4 different projections used on rotation. Projections were on rotation for most of the past week, mainly of NRL players, moments and celebratory messages. We can confirm one last night was of the Rugby League World Cup 9’s logo, which was posted on Twitter by a user:

To show the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projection concerned.
Sydney Harbour Bridge on night of October 7 with ‘Rugby League World Cup 9’s’ projection on the south-east pylon. Photo: Twitter user

The logo seems to have the event’s sponsor removed from the projection, which would have been inside the ‘9’ at the top. 3 words underneath ‘World Cup 9’s’ can’t be interpreted but the actual logo only has 2 words ‘Sydney 2019’.

The Rugby League World Cup 9’s is an event unrelated to the current event being held, NRL Grand Final Week. The only relation is that it is the same sport. The tournament does not begin for 10 days, indicating this was acting as a promotion for a future event – the purpose of an advertisement. It is also the 1st edition of the event ever, so there is no chance this is of being city/state/national/global significance, apart from having hosting rights and the fact NSW is a rugby league fanbase.

2 other projections shown last night we believe celebrated the recent Grand Finals and the Sydney Roosters’ win. The other projection we can’t confirm the content of (If you know, please contact us).

It should be noted Peter V’Landys, CEO of Racing NSW (and at the time of The Everest Barrier Draw projection show last year), recently became Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission and these NRL Grand Final Week projections are being done in conjunction with Destination NSW, who also did the recent Greater Western Sydney Giants lighting, though for some reason, did not add projections for that occasion.

Destination NSW has been contacted for comment. We would contact the NRL too for comment but we can’t find a contact. Stay tuned to this post in case we receive a comment.

Todd Greenburg, in a press conference after the projections were turned on for the 1st time last Monday night, referring to Cooper Cronk’s image being projected, said how that player’s “brand is sitting on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge” and that “it demonstrates, again, the power of the game. It demonstrates the power our players have”.

We can’t confirm whether the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection was announced in that press conference – the NRL/NRL W team line-up projections were, the Dally M projections were, the Grand Final winning team one wasn’t (though it was very likely given those other 2 announced).

Strangely, in Monday’s media release, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said:

This is something we have never done before over the entire week

As we pointed out at the article’s start, they have – numerous times. We wonder why he said that?

These NRL Grand Final Week 2019 projections are done similar to the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show next week. The only difference so far is the north-eastern pylon is being lit but we expect The Everest Barrier Draw will incorporate that too.

The special usages of the south-east pylon done this year for NRL Grand Final Week that we mentioned such as the Dally M winner projections, NRL Grand Final winning team projections and NRL/NRLW Grand Final teams line-up projections are also all similar to The Everest Barrier Draw concept (particularly the Dally M projections).

All this could be to justify the upcoming The Everest Barrier Draw projection show being done.

While some may consider The Everest Barrier Draw projection shows to also be an advertisement, whilst it does promote the event to a degree, it is being used for an active event that is being held at the time of the projection show.

We pointed out last week that logos have been used before on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, mainly to show they are sponsors of Sydney NYE on the night of the event:

South Pylon
Channel 9 Sydney Harbour Bridge South-Eastern Pylon Corporate Branding at Sydney NYE2002 – ‘The World’s Celebration In Union’ Photograph: City Of Sydney

Sydney NYE does do projections on the pylons other than of sponsors on that night – there is the countdown, community messages, safety messages as well as occasional event theming. So there is a precedent for logos being used. However, the Rugby League World 9’s is not a sponsor of NRL Grand Final Week or it’s projections.

The Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection seems intended as an advertisement hidden amongst the other NRL Grand Final Week projections. We can’t recall any similar projections being done (heaps of projections have been done but due to poor notification of them, our history of them is a bit scattered all over the place) apart from the Sydney NYE corporate branding but given the context of Sydney NYE, that seems fine particularly as it allows that event to be held. The Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection does not seem to match that context or any other previous projection show that we can recall (though we are happy to be corrected if someone can recall a similarly done projection show in the past 11 years – projection mapping on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons began in 2008).

This all comes about 1 year after The Everest Barrier Draw caused controversy when news reports appeared that Racing NSW were displeased at the Sydney Opera House Trust’s decision to reject a projection show for a barrier draw, particularly when it concluded in a clear advertisement:

Shows the part of the projection show that is an advertisement
‘The Everest’ 2018 Proposed Sydney Opera House Projection Show Conclusion
Image: Fairfax Media

The advertisement was later removed and the projection show amended. However, a fiery ‘interview’ between broadcaster Alan Jones and the Sydney Opera House Trust CEO caused headlines particularly when it concluded with Alan Jones saying he will speak to Gladys Berejiklian, Premier Of NSW, in “5, 3 minutes”. Her decision to proceed with the projection show amended was hastenily made 9 hours later. This, along with the general content of the projection show, caused protests and petitions and generated worldwide headlines along with a warning from UNESCO that it puts the Opera House’s Word Heritage status at risk.

With an announcement of a similar show but a Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon due to be made sometime this week (with the show being held next Tuesday night), there is an expectation protests may arise again though the scale and controversy may not be as large as last year.

As with the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show, the NRL Grand Final Week projections would have needed approval from Roads & Maritime Services as well as Heritage NSW. We now wonder, with the latter, how did the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection get approval?

So, what do you think? Is the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection image on the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-east pylon an advertisement? Tell us what you think in our polls below:

Note: Updated on 8th October to point out Peter V’landys is Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission. He becomes Chairman on October 30.

Opinion: ‘The Everest’ Barrier Draw On The Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylons Is Mostly Not Precedent Setting

Last year’s The Everest Barrier Draw projections on the Sydney Opera House made worldwide headlines and sparked a massive petition and protest. And rightly so. Even though the projection show was amended, the whole sequence of events showed a disconnect between community & politicians but a deep, strong influential connection between media & politicians.

As we now know, the same projection show is proposed to happen again but this time on the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons. This has drew an angry response once again.

10Daily reported that Senior Federal Labor MP Tanya Plibersek commented that she thought the idea was “tacky” and not a “great look”.

“I think advertising anything on the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House is pretty tacky,” she told reporters.

“I’ve got nothing against racing, but I just question the tastefulness of this sort of advertising.”

But unlike the Sydney Opera House projection show, there are a few things that you can’t argue as ‘precedent setting’ with this year’s proposed Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylon show as they have been done before.

Firstly, before we go into detail, Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections are unnoticeable when they happen. They have been used over the past decade to promote events, causes and companies but the audience they have reached is insignificant.

The audience around the Harbour is pretty low for most of these (the exception being on NYE where reach is between half to 2 million & depending on distance from pylons) but the social media value is a lot larger as it gives the impression that this is something important –  of national significance –  to those who see such a social media post and this is where the core of the issue lies.

It implies an endorsement of something on behalf of the city, state or country as global landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge are representative of these (Sydney or NSW or Australia). However, most Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projection shows are not even noticed or remembered so if reducing publicity of the event is an aim of a future protest, it will likely increase publicity of the projections thus defeating the protest’s aim. It’s like a climate change activist burning a pro-coal banner. The fire contributes to climate change – the thing they are trying to prevent. Media analysts found the controversies, petitions & protests gave The Everest $21 million in free global publicity. However, not protesting implies an endorsement. Expressing that you don’t endorse something is a great way to protest if it doesn’t help your ‘opponent’ for lack of a better word. Last year’s projection show caused such a storm that it was going to get publicity anyway when it happened.

As we’ve pointed out before, messaging combined with events spells disaster. This is something that is slowly appearing in Sydney’s major events & projection shows and definitely will at this year’s Sydney NYE. The Remain-themed (Brexit) London NYE2018 is a good recent example of what negative consequences it brings. Whilst mostly London did vote Remain, the city represents the whole UK to the world and with the nation split on that issue, it was no surprise that Leave supporters were angry that the world got the impression that all of the UK is wanting to remain in the EU. We believe this won’t affect London NYE much as most attendees were Londoners probably. However, TV audiences & domestic tourists of the event may be affected later this year.

This is also why last year’s The Everest projection show made people upset. The Sydney Opera House represents Australia to the world so Australia may be divided on things like gambling, horse racing or animal rights. Sydneysiders mostly attended the protest so it could just be a city vs state issue as well particularly after the (at the time) relatively recent NSW decision to ban greyhound racing. Due to regional citizens not happy with the ban, it was overturned in the midst of The Everest projection anger.

 

Outside of Vivid Sydney, most Sydney Opera House projection shows are also unnoticable or forgettable. However, last year’s The Everest projection show was to be the 1st featuring a clear ‘billboard’ advertisement, breaking UNESCO rules & Sydney Opera House Trust policies and only got attention when the Sydney Opera House Trust refused to host the projection show.

One main reason the Sydney Opera House Trust rejected it is because there was no associated event held at the Sydney Opera House itself on the night – instead it was to be held across the Harbour at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where the projectors are housed sometimes. As far as we are aware, no similar rule applies to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The subsequent events after the Trust’s rejection, from fiery radio interviews to media-political links, even if the ‘billboard’ advertisement portion was removed, deserved the anger it created.

The Everest Barrier Draw 2019 proposal for the Sydney Harbour Bridge though involves lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge like they do during Vivid Sydney except the projection show on the south-eastern pylon will be similar in design to last year’s Sydney Opera House projection show and as far as we are aware, on both southern pylons (though we expect the south-east pylon will only be used).

Unlike last year’s, it mostly won’t be precedent setting. This article details the history and similar examples of what is proposed for a few weeks time.

But first, it would be good to point out key differences to last year’s show. The first thing that got people angry last year was the advertising.

No Actual Advertising This Year

In all the anger last year, the actual projection that caused all the events was rarely shown. This was it:

Shows the part of the projection show that is an advertisement
‘The Everest’ 2018 Proposed Sydney Opera House Projection Show Conclusion
Image: Fairfax Media

As you can see, it features the logo, date & location of the event – all hallmarks of a clear ‘billboard’ advertisement. This part of the show (as well as all features of the logo) were removed in the final show. There was no actual advertising in the final show. In the end, both the proposed and final projection show were probably the worst designed projection shows ever done on the Sydney Opera House because they gave no context to the Harbour audience (plus the proposed one featured a clear advertisement).

The final projection show (minus The Everest trophy) is proposed to be recreated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons this year so this means there is also no actual advertising too this year.

It should be noted that last year the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons were Racing NSW’s original idea before the NSW Government ruled it out (who knows why) and suggested the Sydney Opera House instead. Nevertheless, if Racing NSW’s original idea went ahead, if a similar projection show conclusion happened, it may have ignited a storm too. The logo wouldn’t have been a problem (as many logos have featured in similar projection shows as you will see below) but the date & location would have.  A better conclusion would have been ‘See you in X days at Royal Randwick!’ thus addressing the audience & wider Harbour with a conclusion instead of putting up what is akin to a Times Square digital billboard targeted to anyone who happens to see it.

No Media-Politics Links

Now with that actual advertisement in the originally proposed show last year, the Sydney Opera House Trust stood firm for changes and always did. But then the head of the Trust, Louise Herron, did an ‘interview’ with Alan Jones. You all heard the audio. If you didn’t, it is here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst the ‘interview’ was one of the most horrendous ever, it concluded with these words from host Alan Jones:

…I will be speaking to Gladys Berejiklian in about 5, 3 minutes…

Gladys Berejiklian was at the time and currently is Premier of New South Wales. 9 hours later, reports were coming in that the NSW Government would use the Minister’s discretion to force the Sydney Opera House to hold an amended projection show – a request made by the Premier. This was despite reports the Minister was personally being conflicted with the Premier’s request & the clear anger in the community building throughout the day, not just of the interview and advertisement proposal (which had since been cancelled) but of the links between media personalities & politicians particularly after the recent Federal Liberal Parliamentary Party leadership spill. Their influence was seen as strong while the community mostly ignored. By the time the projection show was held, a light-based protest was organised and a giant online-based petition featuring hundreds of thousands of digital signatures was printed and sent to the NSW Parliament.

So far this time, there has been no media personalities influencing politicians.

This means the only points of anger now left are related to gambling, horse racing & animal rights. This is where we will begin to examine the history.

The History

The pylons were first used in the 1980’s for an artwork. It was a lit-up Southern Cross attached to the south-eastern pylon. But it’s first major usage and now most prominent, is for Sydney New Year’s Eve. It began in 1998 when laser projections were introduced for the event in 1998. They were replaced by light projections in 2000 and projection mapping was introduced in 2009. The western pylons were first used in 2015. As of today, they are still used for Sydney NYE sponsors’ branding.

South Pylon
Channel 9 Sydney Harbour Bridge South-Eastern Pylon Corporate Branding at Sydney NYE2002 – ‘The World’s Celebration In Union’ Photograph: City Of Sydney
Sydney Harbour Bridge Foreshore Authority Sydney Harbour Bridge Southern Pylons Corporate Branding – Sydney NYE2009 – ‘Awaken The Spirit’ Photograph: The Electric Canvas

If corporate branding for Sydney NYE is a problem, this will affect the sponsorship of Sydney NYE as it will affect the reach sponsors can get out of the 1 million people around the Harbour and could speed up the decline of the event.

Projection mapping on the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-eastern pylon was introduced for Vivid Sydney in 2013. However, it is not used for corporate purposes but for artistic purposes. It forms Bangarra Dance Theatre’s annual projection show:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before projection mapping was used at Sydney NYE & Vivid Sydney, it was introduced in general in 2008 for World Youth Day. It has been used ever since for major events & causes though many don’t realise it as it has low reach. Here are some from over the years, some promoting active events, some not:

World Youth Day – Sydney 2008 Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projection Photograph: The Electric Canvas
World Youth Day – Sydney 2008 & Pope Benedict Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections Photograph: The Electric Canvas

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Kewell projection for the FIFA Congress – Sydney 2009 Photograph: The Electric Canvas

 

 

 

The light show to be used in this year’s Barrier Draw was introduced at Vivid Sydney in 2013 on the western side but was switched to the eastern side in 2015 and still exists.

In recent years, the light show has also been used for other events most notably World Road Safety Week & Australia Day In Sydney. It also occasionally has been used for State Of Origin (when NSW does well – especially 2014, which is below):

 

 

 

 

This year’s The Everest Barrier Draw proposal seems to confirm the Vivid Sydney light show is now permanently installed on the Bridge but used for only a few weeks each year.

Other Sporting Events

‘Sydney Welcomes Tottenham Hotspur’ During Vivid Sydney 2015 Photograph: Eliot Cohen- Zeitgeist Photography

Over the past decade, the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons have been used for sporting event projections.

The Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) are Australia’s 2 most attended sporting leagues and have used the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons before – mostly NRL.

AFL used it once for a home final featuring the 2 Sydney teams in 2016 (below) and last Friday, the Vivid Sydney lights & Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons were lit orange for the Greater Western Sydney Giants’s inaugural Grand Final appearance:

Sydney Harbour Bridge Eastern Pylons Projection Show Of Sydney Swans & Western Sydney Giants Players
Sydney Harbour Bridge Eastern Pylons Projection Show Of Sydney Swans & Greater Western Sydney Giants Players. Photograph: Western Sydney Giants

NRL used the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons each year in the week prior to the Grand Final in the early 2010’s. After a few years absence, it was announced today that they will be reintroduced for the next week.

Todd Greenburg, in a press conference, referring to Cooper Cronk’s image being projected, said how that player’s “brand is sitting on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge” and that “it demonstrates, again, the power of the game. It demonstrates the power our players have”.

These NRL Grand Final Week 2019 projections are done similar to the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show later this month. The only difference is the north-eastern pylon is being lit (and badly too – it is shining the powerful lights onto the roadway below the pylon).

It should be noted Peter V’Landys, CEO of Racing NSW (and at the time of The Everest projection show last year), recently became Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission and these NRL Grand Final Week projections are being done in conjunction with Destination NSW, who also did the recent Greater Western Sydney Giants lighting, though for some reason, did not add projections for that occasion.

Strangely, in today’s media release, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said:

This is something we have never done before over the entire week

They have – numerous times. We wonder why he said that?

It could be to justify the upcoming The Everest Barrier Draw projection show being done.

To add to that, on the 2nd October, the winner of the NRL’s Dally M Medal will be projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon either simultaneously or as the actual announcement. This would be the 1st award ceremony projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Image result for sydney harbour bridge nrl
‘NRL Grand Final Week’ Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections 2011 Photograph: The Courier-Mail
‘NRL Grand Final Week’ Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections 2013 Photograph: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Image result for sydney harbour bridge nrl

‘NRL Grand Final Week’ Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections 2014 Photograph: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Image result for sydney harbour bridge nrl
‘NRL Grand Final Week’ Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections 2014 Photograph: South Sydney Rabbitohs

NRL & AFL are well known for their connections to gambling organisations and have endured over the years numerous relevant scandals involving their players. The NRL’s corporate partner is Sportsbet while the AFL’s is Bet Easy. TV networks that broadcast their sports to a community audience bombard that audience with many gambling ads from many gambling companies whose advertisements normalise gambling by promoting it like a business or profession.

It could be fair to say NRL & AFL indirectly do more to promote gambling than horse racing does (though most people know horse racing does more to directly promote gambling than NRL & AFL does).

Using the Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate a sporting event whether it is gambling-focused or not is not unusual. The proposed The Everest projection show this year is no different.

The only argument against the above paragraph is that The Everest is not as big as the Melbourne Cup yet. The Melbourne Cup mainly became ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’ because an interstate Melbourne Cup rivalry between Victoria & NSW developed. The Everest has only beaten the Melbourne Cup in the prize money stakes and no rivalry of similar nature has developed with that race particularly when lots of international horses are in it. Melbourne Cup‘s attendance is also more than double that of The Everest. The Melbourne Cup‘s TV ratings are sky high too in comparison.

While The Everest projection show this year is intended to promote the event through celebration just like NRL & AFL, the projection show is not an advertisement or celebration itself. Rather than just as a promotion or celebration, projections done for The Everest have always been intended as part of their Barrier Draw, which can be considered as part of the sporting event itself.

There is a precedent for incorporating (or at least, proposing to incorporate) the Sydney Harbour Bridge in projections/lights as part of a sporting event (and not just for promotional/celebratory purposes). It never happened though due to cost and possibly because the technology wasn’t quite there. It was a half a decade ahead of it’s time…

The Rugby World Cup 2003 Final was proposed to have the most extravagant Bridge Effect ever.

The Rugby World Cup Trophy was to be the Bridge Effect with multiple miniature Bridge Effects of a rugby ball running along the arch. Players would be projected onto the pylons ‘kicking’ the ball back and forth along the Bridge’s arch when a try/goal happened during the game. The score of each team would be shown on each pylon as fireworks erupted from the pylon’s top.

But due to cost & technological limitations, in the end, just a rugby ball became the Bridge Effect. In hindsight, that was probably wise as the Rugby World Cup Bridge Effect & opening/closing Harbour fireworks displays are the most forgotten displays of all time. Barely any footage exists apart from this short video:

 

 

Conclusion

In the end, the only arguments against the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show that have no precedent involve horse racing or barrier draws. This will be the 1st horse racing or barrier draw projection show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons. Gambling alone doesn’t cut it as an argument when many other gambling-rich sports have been projected on the pylons in the past & even this year. And so far, for this year’s Barrier Draw, there are no ‘billboard’ advertisement designs proposed nor any media figures personally saying they will ring the Premier to ensure it happens. It is only precedent setting and the only reason to protest this year without any fault in argument is in regards to horse racing or barrier draws.

By all means, if you feel you need to protest it due to the gambling links & the promotional/celebratory purposes, feel free to. We are not stopping you nor trying to discourage you but you might as well protest nearly all the other ones including the NRL one currently happening.

Note: Article updated on the 1st of October to include the Dally M Medal award projections and updated on the 5th of October to include details on last year’s publicity figures & to correct details about this year’s projection show  – it won’t feature ‘The Everest’ trophy, which it did last year. Updated on 8th October to point out Peter V’landys is Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission. He becomes Chairman on October 30.

This article or previous versions does and did not imply that Sydney Spectaculars endorses horse racing or gambling etc. This article & it's earlier versions are only to show how similar projections have been done before with no protests.

Opinion: Sydney Still NYE Capital Of The World But Has Paris Now Overtaken Them For Best Annual Fireworks Display?

THIS ARTICLE HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED (4:30PM 03/09/2019 AEST) FOLLOWING INITIAL PUBLICATION AT 8PM 02/09/2019.
That’s right – this is a big call.

For those who remember it, the Millennium was a moment of global unity.

While Rio De Janerio brang the biggest crowds (and they still do), 2 other cities rang in the new Millennium with what were called the best fireworks displays of the night (or the last Millennium). These cities were Sydney and Paris.

Paris was ranked 2nd on the night. The display was done by Groupe F and the countdown of the display replicated a rocket launch with the rocket (or Tower) lifting off at Midnight, taking Paris into the new Millennium (Video below does not feature the fireworks soundtrack):

Sydney’s though will be remembered for an Eternity.

Sydney’s display featured the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House, city buildings, pontoons in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and 4 barges along the Harbour, 2 in the west and 2 in the east. That display was mostly done by Syd Howard Fireworks though the western barges were coordinated by Foti International Fireworks, who have done every Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) since.

The display, 25 minutes long, double the length of post-2005 displays, celebrated 2 themes – time and Sydney – in a phrase Sydney’s Millennium. It celebrated humanity’s history, beginning with a big bang of sorts and after the traditional Auld Lang Syne, launched into a History Of Pop, featuring 60 significant songs of the 20th century (in roughly chronological order) as well as moments of Australian & international importance like The Dismissal & Apollo 11. After then, it celebrated Australia with a remix of Down Under and Yothu Yindi songs. Encapsulting the universality of the moment, which is best represented by the iconic ‘Smiley Face’ Bridge Effect,  which was used in most of the show, What A Wonderful World was then played. The rest of the songs represented modern music (Itacycoo Park), time (One Of These Days & History Repeating) & the best fireworks finale ever (Let’s Go Crazy).

Swan Lake then launched the finale. The finale symbolised the dramatic present (the start of a new Millennium) and the future with the iconic rainbow at the end launching the timeline of the display into an Eternity – a word written around Sydney by Arthur Stace from the 1930’s. Bells then rang from St Andrew’s & Mary’s Cathedrals for the 1st time ever on NYE celebrating the new Millennium.

No doubt Sydney’s millennium display was iconic not just for the scale of the fireworks but it’s theming & musical choice.

The Millennium formula, which was tested for nearly 3 years prior, was set in stone and remained how Sydney NYE was done until 2014. In 2015, the iconic Bridge Effect, which had since 1997 taken many forms, disappeared for various reasons. Since then, a light show has taken it’s place, which has been a suitable replacement though it doesn’t have the same anticipation about it.

Efforts to make a theme without a Bridge Effect were made by finding a local artist to do an artwork based around a theme, which was successful and have turned the artworks themselves into something that is deserving & worthy of anticipation.

However, today’s revealing of the updated Sydney NYE website for the 2019 edition revealed an artwork by Garbett Design to be used for the next 3 years. The artwork we can say looks amazing and stunning.

You can expect possibly slight changes in the artwork each year depending on circumstances/outcomes of previous editions with the artwork but most of the artwork will be the same for the next 3 years.

Shows this year's Sydney NYE artwork
Sydney NYE2019 Artwork
Artwork: City Of Sydney/Garbett Design

Sadly, the updated website today confirmed that Sydney NYE is now no longer doing themes –  a critical aspect of the event. This is the 1st time this has happened since 1995. The website said this:

Artwork

The spontaneous energy of Sydney and its people inspires the event artwork.

Sydney New Year’s Eve is vibrant, raw and energetic. The spirit of the city is demonstrated in the bright, colourful, flexible and optimistic artwork developed by globally awarded, Sydney-based studio Garbett Design.

Inclusive, celebratory and safe

New Year’s Eve marks endings and anticipates new beginnings. Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new at this festive party for everyone.

The City of Sydney’s gift to the people, Sydney New Year’s Eve is a safe, sustainable event, celebrating local artists before the eyes of the world. Everyone can take part in this uniquely Sydney celebration.

While early December used to be the most likely day to reveal the theme, it seems very unlikely now that a theme will be announced in early December as recent years have had the theme revealed on the website a lot earlier.

It is now essentially just a fireworks display for at least 3 years as the light show & same artwork is being used for the next 3 years, the 2020 & 2021 editions have nothing to anticipate for apart from the fireworks soundtrack. The fireworks soundtrack will never go as modern technology ensures it is to stay plus nearly all fireworks displays nowadays have soundtracks. But the theming, which is decided by humans alone, will no longer be. It seems Sydney NYE has moved from being a creative celebration to a government marketing promotion for Sydney and this spells trouble. Events known for their creativity and moving towards a marketing or messaging approach are destined for failure. Like we have mentioned many times before, just look at the Closing Ceremony of the XXIst Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast 2018.

Back to Paris. The Eiffel Tower has remained unused on NYE ever since, though since 2018, the Arc De Triumphe has been used for projections and fireworks. However, that will never beat Sydney. In 2009, to celebrate the Eiffel Tower’s 120th anniversary, the Eiffel Tower was used as part of Paris’s Bastille Day celebrations. They added projections to the show this time and included a little reference to the Millennium display:

The only fault with the display was the Eiffel Tower’s reintroduction was not emotionally powerful. It wasn’t the best display but it utilized Sydney’s strengths as well as the emerging technology of projection mapping, which at this time was making it’s Sydney Opera House debut at the 1st Vivid Sydney. Notable is the strong usage of theming – the display told the history of the Eiffel Tower from 1885 – the year the concept plans of the Eiffel Tower were presented to the Society of Civil Engineers.

Clearly, Paris liked the display so 4 years later, they brought back the Eiffel Tower fully back (partially & briefly for red stationary flares in 2013) and have kept it as part of the fireworks since. The 2014 display, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, saw Groupe F produce what we think is the greatest pyrotechnic display ever done. It solved all the problems of the 2009 display and it is a display Sydney would be proud of. Sydney’s 2013 International Fleet Review Spectacular probably follows in 2nd place. Their 2014 display, titled War & Peace tells the story of France since 1914 and also features acrobatics & circus acts and brilliant cinematography from France Television:

Groupe F has since produced nearly all future Eiffel Tower displays. Some other companies have done these displays but you can tell the difference in quality. However, all years since 2013 (and maybe even some before then) have had a theme!:

  • 2013 – Freedom, Equality, Fraternity
  • 2014 – War & Peace*
  • 2015 – Paris Welcomes The World*
  • 2016 – Paris Is 1 Party*
  • 2017 – Olympism
  • 2018 – Love*
  • 2019 – Federation Party

*Groupe F show

This makes every Bastille Day distinctly different! Other years are below for your viewing:

The 2018 & 2019 displays have been geoblocked to Australia so we can’t see them. The 2017 display has been made a private video too.  But a documentary was made on how Groupe F produce the 2018 show:

If anyone in France is reading this and can provide us a copy of these displays and/or a full translation into English of the documentary, that would be appreciated.

The Eiffel Tower was also used for fireworks 3 times before the Millennium – for it’s 100th anniversary (1989, where it also featured lasers & acrobatics), the opening (1889) and during construction (Yes, during construction in 1887!).

Paris has never gone to the effort of trying to beat Sydney. Sydney’s local & state governments have just taken NYE for granted now. It’s all about marketing, messaging & money rather than celebration, community & creativity.

Sydney has inspired the USA, China, France & the UK to do similar displays.

In fact, New York (with the Brooklyn Bridge) in 1983 inspired Sydney to use the Sydney Harbour Bridge, who since 2014, have inspired New York to bring back the Brooklyn Bridge into fireworks displays. That’s right – if New York keeps improving their displays, their Macy’s July the 4th Fireworks, which once again feature the Brooklyn Bridge could rival Sydney but New York still needs a lot of improvement (Mind you, we’re not American so maybe their cultural preferences suit their display – It’s their national day after all).

The UK even copied Sydney’s own method of Olympic success by also using their NYE celebrations as a ‘test event’ for the Olympics. With Paris due to host the Olympics in 2024, would Paris capitalise on the Eiffel Tower’s fireworks growth and use it on NYE in a couple of years time as an annual ‘test event’ in the lead up to the Games? Maybe they would use the Eiffel Tower like Sydney used in the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics? If so, they will smash Sydney in NYE stakes as Paris’s annual displays looks distinctly different. Sydney isn’t so much anymore.

For the record, we are not saying Foti International Fireworks lack creativity. Unlike Paris, Sydney’s fireworks companies have always specialised in just fireworks with other creativity coming from external sources. Groupe F of Paris has expertise in not just fireworks but acrobatics, projections, lights etc. And that’s a major difference. Foti Fireworks still produce brilliant pyrotechnic displays. It’s just their appointers, the City Of Sydney & the NSW Government, are completely using Sydney NYE as a cash cow instead of a creative masterpiece. The overall event will decline in quality rapidly as a result.

Paris is on the rise, Sydney is on the decline. It isn’t Paris’s fault that Sydney isn’t as exciting as it used to be. It is purely Sydney’s own fault.

In other news from the updated website:

  • A disclaimer now appears upon accessing the Vantage Points webpage. No doubt to remove the City Of Sydney from any associations with commercialisation of the event.
  • It might be just us but the ticketed events appear first on the Vantage Points webpage. Hopefully everyone notices there are free vantage points too! (If you are also taken straight to the ticketed events, please let us know so it can be confirmed). However, this shows an increased emphasis on ticketing.
  • East Circular Quay is now free managed access again! YAY! Most likely due to pressure from nearby businesses.
  • Campbell’s Cove has gone from free ticketed to paid ticketed (AUD$10) NAY!
  • A special ‘Events’ webpage, as revealed last week by the City Of Sydney, shows an emphasis on private 3rd-party events to a scale never seen before. The closest was in 2011 when they did ‘After Midnight’ – a list of venues & private 3rd-party events held after the Midnight Fireworks to visit on your way home.
  • Pre-Show Entertainment and the whole event now starts at 6:50pm.  Recent previous editions started at 6pm with an aerial display.

Most of these dot points’ show the events’ purpose is shifting from one of creativity to one of commercialisation. Some improvement, but still as dramatic a decline as last year due to North Sydney now being ticketed as confirmed last month by North Sydney Council.

What do you think? Tell us what you think in our poll. That would truly tell if Sydney has stuffed up NYE.

‘Sydney Spectaculars’ To End

It is the blog this time.

This blog had to end sometime. We also want to leave on a high.

Over the past 18 months, we have published articles speculating the end of the 2 main ‘Sydney Spectaculars’: Vivid Sydney & Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE).

We also made a Facebook post questioning the creativity of Sydney New Year’s Eve nowadays.

And who can forget this?

All of these combined make us believe this is the ‘peak’ of Sydney Spectaculars – the 2017 editions of Vivid Sydney & Sydney New Year’s Eve.

Our Vivid Sydney article came true this year with the 1st ever drop of attendance in Vivid’s history. It was less of a drop than we predicted (prediction – about 1,000,000; actual – about 20,000) but nevertheless, it was the first ever attendance drop for Vivid Sydney.

Sydney NYE has also had it’s attendance drop by a million since 2013. However, we believe that was due to reasons not related to the popularity of the event.

As we wrote in our article, with the rapid ticketing of the event this year and the potential ‘full’ ‘commercialisation’ of the event possibly into the next few years, Australian taxpayers & Sydney ratepayers though may question their funding of the event leaving the future of the event in the balance as these people will likely want to be able to enter an event they are funding for.

The media launch of Sydney NYE2018 – The Pulse Of Sydney a few days ago also revealed a massive budget decline for the event. Last year was AUD$7 million, now it is AUD$6 million – a drop of about a million Australian dollars.

Some of that drop can be attributed to the cancellation of the Very Important Person Viewing Area at Hickson Road Reserve this year.

Whilst what we published in our article is concerning for the event’s future, there is a possibility that most Sydneysiders won’t realise what we detailed in the article until the morning of the event prompting anger from Sydneysiders who thought that access to most of the good vantage points were still mostly based on who arrived at the location first – not who reserved tickets first. They might then realise that there are not really any good vantage points left to access (even though there are still vantage points left to access) further accelerating that anger especially since they planned a day of looking a good view.

Some might even just give up and go home and watch it on television or the Internet.

And that anger might mar this year’s event.

In the end, it depends on how many Sydneysiders attend the event on the day and how aware they are of the newly ticketed vantage points.

Regardless of what happens, we do not want to write articles about the slow decline of these 2 major events.

We provided warnings in the form of our 2 articles and it’s up to the City Of Sydney & Destination New South Wales to respond accordingly.

In 2016, we were in the midst of writing a warning about the potential of a crowd crush disaster at Vivid Sydney, when that exact thing occurred. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. So our warnings should be heeded. We don’t want to write an article every few months stating ‘Vivid & Sydney NYE have problems. Fix them before it’s too late. Don’t know how? Here is our advice’.

Most of all, we don’t want to have to write an article saying ‘The party is cancelled…permanently…again’ or ‘The lights are off…permanently’. That would be a sad day.

But a good reason to stop writing articles is that it frees up room to upload more historical footage of these events.

Viewing historical footage of these events is what most visitors do our blog so we’ve decided to turn our site more into a ‘museum’ of the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’.  For starters, we will slowly move the videos on our YouTube channel (which eventually we will remove) to this website & of course, add this to this website videos of this and future year’s Sydney NYE, Vivid Sydney & other ‘Sydney Spectaculars’. We will update each event edition’s page with new information when it is available instead of posting the media releases in full from now. So, for this year’s Sydney NYE only, we will provide updates on that event edition’s fireworks soundtrack page as well as by posting on Facebook a direct link to the media releases as they arrive. Every other edition of a ‘Sydney Spectacular’ will have updates on their event edition’s page only.

Also, here is some information about this year’s Sydney NYE that you probably missed due to our lack of posts this year:

  • There is a chance there will only be 2 pyrotechnic displays in Sydney NYE for the 1st time since 2007 as fireworks are not mentioned in the descriptions for the Welcome To Country/Indigenous Smoking Ceremony at 7:30pm or the new Calling Country immediately after the 9pm Family Fireworks.
  • There is a high chance the 10 year Royal Australian Mint partnership with Sydney NYE to produce a yearly Sydney NYE coin has ended after 5 years. The coins are usually revealed in early November (except in the 1st year when it was revealed at the event’s media launch). If the coin isn’t revealed on December 31st, that pretty much guarantees these coins have ceased being minted.

There may be more information (which if there is, we will publish here) but we are pretty confident the rest was covered in the media launch a few days ago.

And, for the record, no information about the fireworks soundtracks has been revealed yet.

In the future, we will also still answer all questions that you send to us.

Again, apologies to all our Sydney Spectaculars followers for not posting any stories and responding to queries received over the past 9 months. We will respond to the queries received over the past 9 months shortly.

Lastly, we want to thank all our followers. It is nice to know there is an audience out there who consider Sydney NYE as more than ‘just a fireworks display’. The blog wouldn’t have been worth writing without you all. From 2011, when we began as a YouTube channel display historic footage of Sydney NYE, your requests for information about the next year’s theme, fireworks soundtracks and more led to the creation of this full blog, which coincided with the addition of Vivid Sydney and an expansion of the meaning of what can be considered as a ‘Sydney Spectacular’. This made the blog an all-year exercise. Whilst we know you are all still enthusiastic about the events, we believe the events are about to begin a decline and that’s why we believe it’s a good time to finish blogging. We don’t want to write, over many years, the decline of these events.

If the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ are on the way up again, the blog may resume in the future…maybe. So we are still hoping things will improve.

To conclude, we hope you all have a happy new year!

So What Music Do You Think Will Be Played When The Rainbow Waterfall Drops?

Here are your answers!

A pyrotechnic rainbow waterfall will fall off the Sydney Harbour Bridge during this year’s Midnight Fireworks as part of Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) 2017 – Wonder and the ‘heralding of a new dawn for equality’.

Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said it celebrates Australians saying ‘Yes’ to marriage equality:

“The rainbow waterfall is a well-earnt tribute to the Sydney 78ers who marched for gay rights 40 years ago – it is a reminder of how far we have come & how far we have left to achieve true equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & intersex (LGBTI) community. It is a wonderful way to ring in the new year & celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras

The rainbow waterfall replaces the golden waterfall this year in the Midnight Fireworks. It is a break in tradition but it is not without precedence. The golden waterfall has been replaced in:

    • Sydney NYE2000 – 100 Years As A Nation, Millions Of Years As A Land: Silver To Gold Waterfall
    • Sydney NYE2002 – The World’s Celebration In Union: Green & White Strobing Angelic Waterfall
    • Sydney NYE2005 –  Heart Of The Harbour: Red To White Strobing Angelic Waterfall
    • Sydney NYE2006 – A Diamond Night In Emerald City: – Green Strobing Angelic Waterfall

The golden waterfall is the iconic moment of the Sydney NYE event and consequently, the Midnight Fireworks. All editions of Sydney NYE have had the golden waterfall drop in the major closing Bridge sequence because of the emotional impact it delivers as part of the finale particularly when heard with the official soundtrack. The soundtrack of the waterfall, thus, has to be one of major emotional impact. Previous golden waterfall drops have featured these music pieces to give an idea of the type of music that usually accompanies it:

  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Sunrise – Richard Strauss
  • The Ring Of The Nibelung: The Valkyrie: Ride Of The Valkyries – Richard Wagner
  • Marche Slave Op.31 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  • Swan Lake – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  •  The Man From Snowy River (Olympic Version) – Bruce Rowland
  •  Pines Of Rome: The Pines of the Appian Way – Ottorino Respighi
  • Advance Australia Fair/Waltzing Matilda (Hylton Mowday Remix) – Peter Dodds McCormick & Banjo Paterson
  • Organ Concerto: Third Movement – Saint Saens
  • Slavsia, Slavsia – Mikhail Glinka/Symphony Of A Thousand – Gustav Mahler
  • Firebird Suite: Lullaby – Igor Stravinsky
  • Vincero: Nessun Dorma – Giacorno Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini
  • Sydney NYE Finale 2012 – Michael Yezerski vs. s:amplify
  • On A Night Like This – Kylie Minogue
  • OblivionM83 featuring Susanne Sundfør
  • Chandelier – Sia
  • Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
  • Hymn For The Weekend (featuring Beyonce) – Coldplay

See videos of previous displays to see how the music & waterfall is timed for emotional impact.

As you can see, most are instrumental music pieces from the classical or soundtrack genres. This was the case pre-NYE2013 with the exception of NYE2004. Since NYE2013, vocal songs from either the pop or soundtrack genres have featured.

But this year’s rainbow waterfall has extra meaning (see above) so there is a possibility that the music has been chosen with this in mind. However, it is not guaranteed: the fireworks soundtrack is finalised in September & if it has been done purely for the proclamation of Schedule 1, Parts 1-3 & 5 of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, there was no guarantee back in September that the bill would even be introduced in Parliament. Back then, the Marriage Law Postal Survey had only just started.

Either way, it was guaranteed that 2018 celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras. It could have been chosen with that in mind.

It could also just have been chosen to represent the City Of Sydney’s support for LGBTI people. However, it would have been a slightly risky move particularly had the Marriage Law Postal Survey returned a ‘No’ result. Whilst it is the City Of Sydney’s event, to the general public it is Australia’s event. The City Of Sydney treated it as a national event pre-NYE2013 but since then have portrayed it as Sydney’s event. If the rainbow waterfall wasn’t planned to be subtle, it could have been a controversial choice. Good thing a ‘Yes’ result was returned (particularly in the City Of Sydney)!

A rainbow waterfall might also have been coincidentally added due to this year’s colourful artwork as well as the fact that rainbows regularly feature in Sydney NYE fireworks displays recently. If this was the case, any music piece could be a potential candidate.

What You Think

Everyone had a different opinion so there was no stand out choice. These were your suggestions:

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Sunrise – Richard Strauss:

What We Think

People’s suggestions were either of the following:

  • Too controversial
  • Used before in Sydney NYE
  • Not emotional enough
  • Lyrics unrelated to the extra meaning behind the rainbow waterfall

The song Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay would be a good candidate though to appear at any point of the 9pm Family & Midnight Fireworks.

The most likeliest of all the suggestions to drop the rainbow waterfall we think would be I Will Survive – Diana Ross due to the song considered by some as a gay anthem. However, unlike the original version of the song by Gloria Gaynor, there is no good ‘drop point’ for the rainbow waterfall in this version. The original version though has a suitable ‘drop point’ at 01:11 in the music video:

We are guessing though that it will be the song Finally by CeCe Peniston. It was used in the Australian movie, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert as well as in a segment of the Closing Ceremony of The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: Sydney 2000 dedicated to that same movie. The song is about the wait to begin a relationship ending. It was a hit in the 1990’s and popular in clubs as it is a dance song.

If the Midnight Fireworks soundtrack abruptly changes to this song at 00:57 in the music video, when the rainbow waterfall drops, accompanied by a glittering light display off the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it could be the emotional impact that is desired to deliver the message the City Of Sydney is sending to the world. After all, Australia has been debating changes to the Marriage Act 1961 since 2004. It was a long, tiring debate particularly for LGBTI people & the debate and wait is finally over.

So that’s what we think. We might be wrong. We might be right. You all might be wrong. One of you might be right.  The fireworks soundtracks are released tomorrow. We’ll find out then. Maybe.

There is one extra thing about the rainbow waterfall that is unique this year. Who knows? Maybe it will be revealed tomorrow too. However, if it isn’t, don’t expect us to reveal it. We are waiting until the City Of Sydney do if they ever do. If they don’t, we’re leaving it as a surprise to maximise the emotional impact of the Midnight Fireworks for you all.