Erin Brockovich in Adelaide

The Adelaide Festival of Ideas (AFoI) is delighted to announce that Erin Brockovich will make an Australian public appearance at the 2016 Adelaide Festival of Ideas (21-23 October).

A legal clerk turned environmental activist, Brockovich gained international recognition for her courageous efforts to expose the contamination of community drinking water by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Ms Brockovich’s successful lawsuit won a settlement of US $333m – at the time the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in US history.

In the year 2000, her story became the Hollywood film, Erin Brockovich. This Oscar winning production catapulted the activist to media stardom. She then hosted the TV series Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Zone Reality.

“Erin Brockovich is a role model for informed, activist citizens everywhere” says AFoI founder and board Chairman, Greg Mackie. “We are thrilled to be bringing her to Adelaide for our festival”.

The complete 2016 AFoI program will be released in mid-September. In the meantime, interested citizens can head to the AFoI website and register their interest by joining the free AFoI e-news.

The 2016 Adelaide Festival of Ideas is proud to be a partner with Open State – a 10 day series of conferences and public events.

Get along to Adelaide Festival of Ideas

The Adelaide Festival of Ideas (AFoI) is a treasured South Australian public event that this year sits at the heart of Open State. Since its inception in 1999, AFoI has been Adelaide’s signature celebration of the importance of ideas in an active democracy. The first of its kind in Australia in 1999 and one of the first in the world, AFoI provides thousands of people with access to thought leaders across a range of specialist topics.

We live in a world that is saturated with opinion – on-air, on-line, on-screen and on-paper. Despite the proliferation of platforms for the exploration and exposition of new ideas, people still crave face to face ‘town-hall’ public conversations.

By bringing together a range of creative thinkers and do-ers from varied areas of human endeavor, we provide a space where the inquiring mind can be stretched and challenged.

It has been especially satisfying to see people of diverse generations coming along to enjoy the experience. While there may be topics of greater interest to particular generations, there is something for all – and so much of relevance that crosses generations.

Another feature that distinguishes the AFoI from other events in the ideas space is that it is mainly free to the public.  We treat our audience as citizens and not as consumers. This concept is core to the event’s DNA and is enshrined in its constitution. As our Program Development Convenor, Emeritus Professor Ian Gibbins said, our festival may be free, but its content is priceless.

The AFoI provides South Australians and visitors alike with access to speakers who are passionate about their subject matter. In 2016, there is a special connection with Open State, and so a number of speakers from other Open State umbrella conferences will share their ideas with AFoI audiences.

Across the weekend of 21-23 October, a cluster of venues, all within easy walking distance of each other along North Terrace, will be home to the 2016 AFoI. Thanks to the generous support of the University of Adelaide, Bonython Hall and Elder Hall will form the heartland, along with a range of nearby smaller venues, including the State Library of SA’s Hetzel Lecture Theatre.

The overarching theme for the 2016 AFoI is Make or Break: doing nothing is not an option. This sits comfortably with Open State’s interest in doing democracy better. Exploring citizen voice and the notion that government cannot have all the answers is, in essence, what the AFoI celebrates.

Our full program will be released by mid-September, so register for our free e-news and be among the first to start planning your own AFoI adventure.

How Adelaide’s Festival of Ideas started a national trend

Excerpt from The Australian, Life – November 21, 2015

Adelaide might be anxious about building submarines, but it’s way ahead in the building of festivals. Writers’ festivals, film festivals. Arts, fringe and cabaret festivals. Children’s, food, music and fashion festivals. OzAsia and WOMADelaide.

But my favourite’s the Festival of Ideas. Spawned and staffed by luminaries associated with the Adelaide Writers’ Week, Rose Wight and Greg Mackie, its focus isn’t on the sainted novelist so much as the philosopher, environmentalist, scientist, polemicist and activist.

Following its overnight success in 1999, ideas festivals took off across the country. I took the format to Brisbane — and some buggers in Sydney announced a Festival of (Dangerous) Ideas, whatever they are. And, of course, there were the TED Talks out of North America.

Read The Australian, Life article

Everybody’s talking at festivals of ideas

An excerpt from The Australian October 01, 2011


Greg Mackie may not have shown it, but he was petrified. It was midwinter 1999 and, with just hours to go before the key event of Adelaide’s first Festival of Ideas, ticket sales were lousy, if not disastrous.

The festival — an ideas forum straddling geopolitics, science and the arts — was Mackie’s creation and the first event of its type held in Australia. The well-connected former bookseller and adviser to Adelaide Writers Week had secured funding for his “bazaar of ideas” from state and local governments and corporate sponsors.

Read The Australian article

Festival of Ideas saved by its founder

Exerpt from InDaily, September 04, 2015

South Australia’s Festival of Ideas will return in 2016.

The State Government withdrew funding for the event earlier this year but the festival’s founder, former senior public servant Greg Mackie, has convinced Premier Jay Weatherill to return ownership to him.

He has established a not-for-profit organisation to oversee the event which will re-emerge in Adelaide in October 2016.

The festival was held every two years from 1999, and was due to be run this spring before the Government dumped it due to a tightening arts budget. The last festival in 2013 saw more than 30,000 attend the various events.

Read InDaily Article