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article imageOp-Ed: Vivid Sydney 2016

By Paul Wallis     Apr 14, 2016 in Entertainment
Sydney - Vivid Sydney started out eight years ago as what may be called a look for the city, rather than a particularly interesting, diverse, cultural event. These days, it’s a mix of new elements, with a lot more intellectual grunt, themes and ideas.
Vivid Sydney is a 23-day experience, this year from 27 May to 18 June. Events are held around Sydney city central locations, and everything’s pretty easy to get to. It’s a very popular event with locals, and attendance numbers are always high. If you’re coming to the city, take a bit of time to think about the best travel routes, and allow a bit of extra time for just wandering around and having fun.
The good news for visitors is that there are no real difficulties getting around. Just about everything is within 10km of everything else, and travel times from A to B in any direction are usually around 30-40 minutes depending on types of transport. Some events are free and some cost up to over $100.
The three core themes – Music, Light and Ideas
Destination NSW
The musical offerings for this year are truly all over the place. From Bjork’s two contributions, Digital 3D (already sold out) and Digital Party to Germany’s Primal Fear and just about everything in between, it’s a smorgasbord. It’s also very much in context with Sydney’s long history of art shows, a belated vindication of the generations of Australian artists and musicians who’ve put on great shows with much less attention.
The Light aspect was a big part of the original Vivid Sydney, and it’s come a long way from lighting up sections of the city. The new show has a much broader ideas base, continuing to light up the Opera House, but developing in to far deeper and more expansive roles. (To this day, if you ask someone what Vivid Sydney is, the usual answer will include the light displays.)
The Ideas part of Vivid Sydney is a pretty eclectic collection of ideas, working across a bandwidth of themes. Some of the ideas will be instantly familiar; others, I’m pleased to say, are more unique and highly relevant. A subject like The End of Nine to Five, for example, is a current major issue, regarding the long-overdue end of the increasingly ridiculous, expensive, and largely pointless mid-20th century work patterns.
It’s more functional, too, in useful areas of exploration. Business Basics for Creative People is a subject which is both practical and important, dealing with a well-known, and largely misunderstood, gap in the training of creative people.
Destination NSW
Some credit where it’s due and perhaps overdue — Vivid Sydney has successfully taken the idea out of the cringe-worthy tourist cliché mode in to a much more interesting range of new contexts. It’s no longer just an add-on to city business and tourism, but a credible event with some genuine depth.
Sydneysiders are more than slightly skeptical as well as bored to death, with overdone Australiana, and gushy-slushy pseudo art stuff. A real koala or roo is quite OK; anything else is considered a bit shallow and banal. Real crafts and arts are fine. Anything which fits the “We’re too damn lazy to come up with something good” mode is ignored and despised. Vivid Sydney has escaped those gruesome images, and is delivering. Good luck to them.
Special note: Thanks to Destination NSW for supplying their pictures, which are of the Vivid Sydney 2015 shows. Photos taken by James Horan.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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