Skip to main content
A cloud moving with a man as he cycles on a bridge.

Line-up for fifth annual Antidote festival announced

Sydney – Monday 19 July, 2021. The Sydney Opera House today announced the line-up for Antidote 2021 – its annual festival of ideas, action and change – which will be livestreamed from the Opera House stages on Sunday 5 September. Celebrating its fifth year, Antidote is a vital response to our turbulent times, galvanising the community by providing a platform for inspiring conversations, consensus-building and creative solutions.

Sydney Opera House’s Head of Talks & Ideas, Edwina Throsby, who will curate the festival for the final time in 2021 before taking up the position of Managing Editor of Arts at the ABC says: “Once again, we find ourselves in challenging times. Particularly for those of us back in a holding pattern of physical distance and social isolation, doom scrolling, home schooling and fixating on daily case numbers. It’s hard to find optimism when it feels like we’ve gone backwards. But, there has never been a more important time to focus on the future. Pausing to reflect on hopeful solutions to big issues impacting our world can provide much-needed mental and emotional respite. Exercising the mind by engaging with leading thinkers and creatives to imagine alternative futures offers a remedy for challenging periods of uncertainty, fear and burnout. At Antidote, audiences are invited to join conversations about how we can improve our world, together.”

This year’s festival themes include: solutions for the climate crisisalternatives to capitalism#StopAsianHatedecolonisationthe Uluru Statement from the Heartthe myth of the ‘fair go’anti-Arab racism since 9/11Deaf culturemorality in Australian politics, and the quest for meaning in a post-truth age.

The unmissable line-up will feature:

  • New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction and Under a White SkyElizabeth Kolbert in conversation with investigative journalist and author of Body CountPaddy Manning;
  • Greek economist, politician and author of Another NowYanis Varoufakis in dialogue with former Australian Senator and author of Full CircleScott Ludlam;
  • Korean American poet, essayist and Pulitzer prize finalist for Minor Feelings: An Asian American ReckoningCathy Park Hong in dialogue with broadcasters Benjamin Law and Beverley Wang;
  • Writer, TV presenter and author of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and BelongingAfua Hirsch in conversation with Bundjalung/Kullilli man and broadcaster Daniel Browning;
  • Cobble Cobble woman and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous and law professor at UNSW Megan Davis and Alyawarre woman and advocate, Pat Anderson AO (co-recipients of the Sydney Peace Prize 2021), appearing with Thomas Mayor, author of Finding the Heart of the Nation;
  • Legal commentator and author of Who Gets to be Smart Bri Lee, Western Sydney-based writer, producer and radio maker Sheila Ngoc Pham, and journalist and author of My Year of Living VulnerablyRick Morton, moderated by Ngiyampaa/Wailwan woman and presenter of The Guardian's 'Full Story' podcast Laura Murphy-Oates;
  • Michael Mohammed Ahmad, director of Western Sydney-based literary movement Sweatshop and author of The Other Half of You, curating and appearing on a panel on anti-Arab racism in Australia since 9/11, also featuring Palestinian-Egyptian author of Coming of Age in the War on Terror Randa Abdel-Fattah and Lebanese-Australian anthropology professor at University of Melbourne Ghassan Hage, moderated by Arab-Australian campaigner and writer Sara Saleh;
  • Deaf poet, essayist and author of The Shape of Sound Fiona Murphy, bioethics professor and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute at UNSW Jackie Leach Scully and actor and theatre director Alex Jones;
  • Sydney Morning Herald columnist and author Jacqueline Maley, fellow Herald columnist, author and host of ABC TV The DrumJulia Baird and Schwartz Media’s head of audio Osman Faruqi;
  • Author of The Believer: Encounters with Love, Death & FaithSarah Krasnostein in conversation with author of In My Past Life I was Cleopatra: A sceptical believer's journey through the New AgeAmal Awad, moderated by Sydney Ideas' Fenella Kernebone.

For the first time, Sydney Opera House will partner with Sweatshop on an emerging writers mentorship for First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse writers. For the inaugural instalment of a year-round series of emerging writers’ mentorships, two successful applicants will each receive $1,000, an Antidote digital festival pass, and support on their writing project inspired by the themes of this year’s Antidote festival. They will also have an opportunity to engage with speakers from the line-up and have their work published on the Opera House’s Digital platform.

All sessions will be Auslan interpreted or live captioned.

Download media images here.

For media information, please contact:

Georgia McKay
Senior Communications Manager
​ / 0466 223 293

Francesca Breen
Communications Coordinator / 0434 257 068