Things to do

Big ideas: Night of free talks at Sydney city venues

Raising the Bar: Light Rail edition gets leading innovators to discuss today’s issues from culture to technology.

Talk audience

What does a robotic future really look like? Is wifi always the strongest connection? Do we need more social media regulation?

20 speakers will answer the big questions of our time on Wednesday 28 April in 10 bars and venues around the city.

From Circular Quay to Surry Hills, we're turning Sydney bars and cultural spaces into a hub of ideas for Raising the Bar. A food scientist, an experiential futurist, a musicologist and other innovators will give free talks in interesting venues for one night only.

Produced by the City of Sydney, the events span design, media, business, technology, food, health and contemporary topics. Get inspired in fun night-time spots including Belvoir Street Theatre, The Shakespeare, Jazzy Café & Bar, Strawberry Hills Hotel and Dove & Olive. All locations are a quick walk from a light rail stop.

Raising the Bar: Light Rail edition is the perfect after-work activity for curious minds. The free talks will happen at 6pm and 7.30pm, so you can pop into a talk with a friend, and still have time to enjoy dinner and a drink.

Hear about edible insects and cell-based meats while sampling whiskey and cocktails based on local Chinatown ingredients at Banchō. Learn how the power of design can influence change in a stunning 200 square metre gallery Courtesy of the Artist atop the Strand Arcade. Understand why the right music at the right time can save your life at Stitch Bar. All Raising the Bar venues are a few minutes’ walk from one of the Sydney light rail stops.

To get you in the mood, here’s a teaser on 4 of the speakers and their topics:

1. Eco-anxiety to eco-empowerment

Light rail stop: Surry Hills

The bushfires last summer and a global pandemic have shown us a glimpse of our future in a world beset by climate change and diseases transmissible between animals and humans. Eco-anxiety and a fear for the future is a pretty normal response, but can leave us paralysed and feeling helpless. In this talk, experiential futurist Claire Marshall will explore how our brains think about the future, why it has been difficult for humans to take action on climate change, and how we can reframe our eco-anxiety to take the action we need.

2. Avocado toast = financial stress

Courtesy of the Artist Loft
Light rail stop: QVB

1 in 3 Australians can’t access $500 in an emergency. Brad Joffe explains why indulging in avocado toast isn’t to blame. He’ll argue that financial illiteracy is a pervasive problem – not only economically, but socially and mentally – and that it is affecting us in real life terms every day.

“The problem is hereditary. It will exacerbate itself and be passed on from generation to generation unless we start to act now. Fortunately, here is yet another example where technology and innovation can be an enabler for positive change,” Brad said.

Brad will introduce us to innovative solutions and financial products coming to market that people can leverage to support their financial wellbeing.

3. Hollywood making and breaking culture

Light rail stop: QVB

Hollywood has the clout to make, break and cancel cultures. But what happens when Marvel and Disney turn into political cinema? When movies like Black Panther and Wonder Woman make 1 billion dollars at the box office on the back of apparently progressive racial and gender politics? Is this something entirely new or just Hollywood’s way of cashing in on the next wave of political unease?

Join Bruce Isaacs, associate professor in film studies at University of Sydney, as he looks at the emergence of something potentially radical in the Hollywood mainstream: a committed, engaged political cinema for a global mass audience.

4. Data changes the world one byte at a time

Stitch Bar
Light rail stop: Wynyard

90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years. That’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. We're at the precipice of a revolution to be supported by data. Elisa Choy, founder and managing director of Maven Data, also known as The Data Whisperer, demystifies data in a powerful, succinct, and easy listening talk.

Elisa presents a bright way forward to a better future. She shares her passionate belief about how data can change the world one byte at a time.

Raising the Bar: Light Rail edition is on Wednesday 28 April. Book your free tickets before they're gone.

We want our events to be inclusive. If you have access or communication needs, please call 02 9265 9333.

Published 6 April 2021, updated 28 May 2021