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It Takes A Village To Deliver A TEDxSydney Main Event

Remo Giuffré

TEDxSydney 2021 happened on Friday 26 November. It was our 12th consecutive Main Event, and now that it’s in the can (available on demand HERE for registered attendees), let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the supremely talented people who make these massive productions possible.

 

TEDxSydney sits at the centre of a very large ecosystem of people and partners.

Just as “It takes a village to raise a child” so, too, does it take a whole lot of smart and committed people to deliver a TEDxSydney Main Event.

There are literally thousands of TEDx organisations around the world, all doing good work to amplify “ideas worth spreading” born of their local communities. Some do this by producing small events, and some do it at a larger scale. TEDxSydney is best known within the TED/TEDx universe as the organisation that has consistently delivered one of the biggest and certainly the most highly produced TEDx event in the world … and it has done so every year without break since 2010. 

For its first 10 events TEDxSydney shifted progressively to bigger and bigger venues to cope with surging demand; from a 700 seater at Sydney’s Carriageworks, to the 2,500 seat Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House, and then in 2017 to a 5,000 seat theatre at ICC Sydney.

Each move called for some rapid adaptation and creativity in order to retain the special sense of intimacy and the community vibe that TEDxSydney has long been known for.

And then along came COVID-19 and an urgent need to (literally-overnight) rethink how we would be able to both survive as an organisation AND deliver on our mission for the benefit of our community.

In May 2020 we streamed a Celebration of TEDxSydney from a sound stage as a way to test the resilience of our format moving from stage to studio. Celebration was a critical success, and we were all emboldened to take it up to the next level for our Main Event in November 2020. For this event we opted for a hybrid model where most of our audience experienced TEDxSydney via a unique virtual platform that we developed in partnership with Jomablue … but we also served two other audiences: a small one on-site in the studio AND a small global audience manifest on big screen in the venue. This is akin to walking, chewing gum AND singing at the same time.

We took what we learned in 2020 and shifted it back to the Sydney Opera House for this year’s main event; and this is the event that happened last Friday. Phew!

The hybridisation of our format has added layers of complexity to how something like last Friday gets done, and each of our production partners has had to break new ground with their thinking and their technologies; and I just wanted to take a moment to give thanks to those inspired organisations and individuals.

In no particular order:

Jomablue, in its fifth year partnering with TEDxSydney, has itself pivoted from an event registration business to one that can now lay claim to a truly innovative and unique virtual platform that elegantly integrates live and pre-recorded content with an engaged live community.

INVNT, in its fourth year as our brand experience partner, and a global team of people who really get HYBRID and who have been pivotal in supporting the TEDxSydney journey from real space to virtual space … and everything in between.

Innovative Production Services, TEDxSydney partner since 2014, has probably played the biggest and most important role technically to support our formatting twists and turns over the years. We are ever-indebted to Brendan Sadgrove and his team for the extraordinary quality and attention to detail that Innovative bring to everything they have done with us since 2014. 

… and big thanks also to our Creative Partners:

Stew Burchmore (Boing Boing Productions) has been our live stream director since (believe it or not) 2010. There are never less than 8 cameras involved in a TEDxSydney Main Event … and things can get very complicated. Without Stew there would be no show. No one handles complexity as well as he does. You can read another TEDxSydney piece about Stew HERE

Peter Cramer from The MilkBar joined the TEDxSydney family in 2011 … and is the one person most responsible for the TEDxSydney screen look and feel. This year was extra special for Peter as he took on a new role as our Film Curator AND lent his magical skills to the production of the pre-recorded talks and performances that were required to hedge some of our risk away from a dreaded pandemic resurgence i.e. Plan A, Plan B & Plan C.

Jonathan Key and his team at Studio 3:AM did awesome work this year as our design partner; and, for the fifth year running we were blessed to be the recipients of support and inspired creativity in the animation space from Scott Geerson at Substance.

Also this year we welcomed Stagekings to the TEDxSydney family of production partners. Our collaboration on the fast-tracked development of an extraordinary and flexible flat-packed “Wall of Xs” staging system was a new TEDxSydney legend in the making. We’re making a mini documentary about that. Stay tuned.

In conclusion, and to repeat, TEDxSydney is the collective radiant energy of the many people that live and work in our ecosystem.

They are the people of our village.

Massive thank you from me, on behalf of all of us, to all of them.

 

Remo Giuffré

Founder & Director

TEDxSydney