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Talks & Ideas

Ideas to challenge, inform and inspire

The Sydney Opera House’s Talks & Ideas program showcases big ideas and extraordinary people, from Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, scientist Stephen Hawking (via hologram), political leader Aung San Suu Kyi and French economist Thomas Piketty to artist Yoko Ono, lifestyle legend Nigella Lawson and film icon Jackie Chan. In addition to year-round events, the Sydney Opera House Talks & Ideas program features annual festivals All About Women and its own successful podcast series, It’s A Long Story. Antidote is a festival of art, ideas and action which builds on the strong base of the groundbreaking Festival of Dangerous Ideas, which it replaced in 2017.

Talks & Ideas online extends the reach of live events with original content and recordings of its major events on the Talks & Ideas YouTube channel and on iTunes.


Worried about the world? You’re not alone. Politics. Climate change. Money. It’s exhausting – even facts can be alternative now.

This festival is our chance to address all that. Taking place on the first weekend of September, it’s a time for us to come together to recharge, rethink, take stock, and take action.

From talking problems, to solving them.

Every speaker and artist you’ll meet has put their reputation (and in some cases body) on the line, fighting for what they believe in. They’ve used their art, thinking and attitude to create the change they want to see in the world, and we’re hoping that by giving them a platform, we can inspire you to do the same.

Antidote - A festival of ideas, art and action
Politics. Climate change. Fake news. Money. We’ve spent years talking about the world’s problems. Now we need an Antidote.
Capitalism and Climate Change, part of FODI 2015, in the Concert Hall.

Festival Of Dangerous Ideas

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) was co-founded by The Ethics Centre and the Sydney Opera House in 2009. It was presented at the Sydney Opera House for eight years until 2016.

FODI was conceived to stimulate discussion and critical thinking and connect audiences with some of our most important issues – asylum, gender, justice, death, politics, race, religion and more. It brought leading thinkers and culture creators from around the world to challenge the status quo, start important conversations and push the boundaries of conventional thought.

Speakers presented at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas include: Christopher Hitchens, Julian Assange, Mona Eltahawy, Jon Ronson, Alicia Garza, Germaine Greer, David Simon, Sir Salman Rushdie, Pussy Riot, Masha Gessen, Tariq Ali, A.C. Grayling, Peter Greste, Naomi Klein and Stan Grant.

FODI was jointly founded by Richard Evans and Rachel Healy, formerly of Sydney Opera House, and Dr Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre. Dennis Watkins produced the first FODI in 2009. From 2010-2016, Ann Mossop, formerly of Sydney Opera House was the curator of the festival, joined by co-curator Danielle Harvey of Sydney Opera House from 2012-2016. Simon Longstaff acted as curatorial advisor from 2009-2016.

Over its eight year history, FODI presented 239 individual sessions, sold over 157,000 tickets and reached even more audiences around Australia and the world via its satellite event program and digital content. 

Many talks were recorded and are available via YouTube or iTunes.

It's A Long Story

It's A Long Story uncovers the formative moments from the childhoods and early careers of some of the world’s leading thinkers and culture creators. Extraordinary speakers come to share their ideas from the Opera House’s stages.  This series asks the questions ‘How did they get here?’ and ‘Why are these ideas important to them?’ This generates a series of fascinating and revelatory conversations.

The first podcast series made by the Sydney Opera House features spoken word performer Henry Rollins, the co-creator of the Black Lives Matter network Alicia Garza, author Lionel Shriver and former child soldier, now criminal lawyer and NSW Australian of the Year 2017 Deng Thiak Adut. The first season is hosted by Australian broadcast journalist Hamish Macdonald.

The second podcast series, which was recorded at BINGEFEST 2016, featured Lebanese-American composer and radio host Jad Abumrad, producer Julie Snyder, comedian Josh Thomas and more.

The third series kicked off in June 2017, featuring interviews with speakers such as Geena Davis and Giulia Enders from All About Women 2017.

Listen on either iTunes or Stitcher

It's A Long Story
It's A Long Story is the podcast from Sydney Opera House exploring the stories behind some of our most influential and acclaimed guests. Listen here.
Masha Gessen, Crystal Lameman, Mallory Ortberg, Anne Sherry and Anne-Marie Slaughter at All About Women 2016. Image: Prudence Upton

All About Women

A one day festival of talks and conversation, All About Women creates a platform for women thinkers and the discussion of ideas that matter to women. With a devoted audience and a vibrant atmosphere, it presents cutting edge ideas, challenging discussions and inspiring stories from around the world.

Speakers have included Nobel Peace Prize-winner from Liberia, Leymah Gbowee,  thinker Anne-Marie Slaughter, writers Roxane Gay and Helen Garner, activist Rosie Batty and artist Miranda July.

The festival began in 2013 with the aim of looking for ways to bring more women of ideas into public conversations. This has only become more important since then, as issues like violence against women, everyday sexism and the role women can play politics remain at the forefront of public debate.

Edwina Throsby, Head of Talks & Ideas

Respected producer, director and curator Edwina Throsby joins the Sydney Opera House as Head of Talks & Ideas in August 2017.

The former Head of Curation of TEDxSydney, Throsby has dedicated her 20-year career to bringing complex topics and stories to the broadest possible audience across platforms and media. In her three years overseeing the artistic and creative vision for TEDxSydney, the ideas festival grew to almost 130,000 attendees, millions of online views and more than 150 satellite events.

Prior to TEDxSydney, Throsby founded and produced the ABC’s flagship multi-platform ideas program, Big Ideas, hosted by Tony Jones, which quickly expanded from ABC2 to the main ABC network and ABC News 24.

Throsby has worked as a documentary filmmaker, garnering the Best Documentary award at Flickerfest (2008) and Best Documentary Short award at Melbourne International Film Festival (2008) for Dance Like Your Old Man. She has also worked on esteemed news and current affairs programs, including Four Corners, Media Watch and Q&A.

Edwina recently completed her PhD in political science, writing her thesis on undecided voters in Australia. 

Edwina Throsby, Head of Talks & Ideas. Image: Yael Stempler

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