Illuminate Adelaide: Adelaide Festival of Ideas – line up announced

Wangu-Poles-Kaurna-Learning-Circle-Karra-Wirraparinangku-University-of-Adelaide-by-Paul-Herzich-and-OxigenAustralia’s exciting new event, Illuminate Adelaide, in partnership with the University of Adelaide, will turn a spotlight on the leaders and concepts shaping today’s world with a reinvigorated Adelaide Festival of Ideas.

From Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 July, the 2021 festival will explore the theme of Bright Future through 27 panels, forums, lectures and special events, featuring a diverse line-up of some 60 speakers, and held at the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace campus.

With a small number of paid events, and most sessions free (registration is required), the event’s theme and the session topics will resonate with Illuminate’s focus on the concepts of Art, Light, Innovation and Technology.

Australia’s most celebrated thinkers will invite audiences to have their own ‘light bulb moment’ as they examine ideas pertinent to our society and imagine what the future might hold.

The outstanding line up of thought leaders from across the country has been assembled by guest curators alongside Illuminate Adelaide’s cofounders and creative directors, Lee Cumberlidge and Rachael Azzopardi, and Ross Ganf, Director, Cultural and Campus Events, the University of Adelaide.

This year’s guest curators are Yuwallarai journalist and Aboriginal advocate Kirstie Parker, social entrepreneur, medical student and 2021 Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall, and South Australian Museum’s Head of Humanities and Director of the University’s National Centre for Aboriginal Language and Music (NCALMS) Professor John Carty.

Highlights of this year’s program include:
• Gladys Elphick Memorial Oration on the importance of the Aboriginal Flag – This keynote oration presented by Stan Grant marks 50 years since the flag was first flown in Victoria Square and explores its role in half a century of Aboriginal relations with non-Aboriginal Australia as well as recent legal community controversy surrounding copyright.
• Fair Game – A long overdue examination of racism in sport featuring AFL legend Gavin Wanganeen, former Socceroo Bruce Djite and the AFL’s General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch.
• Voice, Treaty, Truth – An exploration of truth telling, a discussion of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the importance of a Voice to Parliament featuring Professor Megan Davis.
• Making Friends of Enemies – in a world so quick to tear each other down what could be learned if instead of reacting in anger we turned enemies into friends? Attica chef Ben Shewry speaks about a defining moment of undeserved kindness that shaped his future relationships.
• True Selfie – Writer and director Taryn Brumfitt and author Clementine Ford will have a frank discussion about the way social media impacts body image and mental health.
• COVID Positive – Dr Norman Swan and Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor will focus on the positives that have come out of the COVID pandemic.

The future of food is in the spotlight at Souper Foods, where attendees receive a souvenir mug filled with delicious soup from Attica chef Ben Shewry; and From The Ground Up investigates regenerative agriculture and future farming methods with gardening legend Costa Georgiadis, sustainability innovator Matt Stone and acclaimed food journalist Max Veenhuyzen.

For those after more than food for thought, Matt Stone will serve up a multi-course banquet for the Adelaide Festival of Ideas Dinner – which sees guests sharing the table with award-winning journalists, artists and leaders from around the country.

Other sessions include an exploration of the ongoing effects of recent bushfires on those who experienced them firsthand with Fighting Fires: Public Safety and Public Interest; and Artists Without Borders is a discussion on touring and international collaboration in a post-Covid world, featuring key Illuminate Adelaide artists from international multimedia studio Moment Factory and Chris Petridis alongside Rachael Azzopardi and Lee Cumberlidge.

And on closing night, Radiance – a gathering of Australia’s cultural elders and philanthropists discussing their legacy and hopes for the future.

“I’m looking forward to exposing Festival audiences to First Nations people’s perspectives and worldviews, and having rich discussions about ways to better embed them in narratives and actions, both small and big, from the local to national and beyond,” said Guest Curator Kirstie Parker.

Fellow Guest Curator Isobel Marshall added: “Adelaide Festival of Ideas has been reinvigorated to give a stage to the ideas, conversations and issues that our society needs to engage with right now. I love how the Festival prioritises making these sessions accessible to the general public so that the expectation of educating ourselves on issues of great importance is actually realistic and exciting.”

Established in 1999, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas explores the importance of intellectual exploration and critical thinking to a functioning society. The 2021 Festival takes place at the University of Adelaide and features curators and speakers from the staff, student and alumni communities, demonstrating the University’s ongoing role in fostering conversations and ideas that have the power to shape our future.

“Our University has been a supporter of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas since it began more than 20 years ago. As the leading institution in South Australia for the creation of new knowledge, ideas and innovation, our campus is a natural home for the festival,” said University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj AC.

“We look forward to welcoming many visitors from the community onto our beautiful campus, to engage with leading thinkers on issues that are critical to our world’s future and our society’s prosperity.”

Illuminate Adelaide is thrilled to be partnering with the University of Adelaide to present the Adelaide Festival of Ideas,” said co-creative directors, Lee Cumberlidge and Rachael Azzopardi. “It is the perfect platform for discourse around some of the central themes of our event and some of the current topics in need of ongoing debate in our society as we tackle some of the big challenges of our time.”

“We wanted to take a position of optimism in how we do this, so we brought on board our incredible guest curators to shape the festival program and inspire our audiences with memorable discussions, lectures and forums that stay with us long after the event.”

The 2021 Adelaide Festival of Ideas runs Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 July. For more information and full program, visit: Illuminate Adelaide takes place across Adelaide: 16 July – 1 August 2021. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Wangu Poles, Kaurna Learning Circle, Karra Wirraparinangku, University of Adelaide by Paul Herzich and Oxigen