What Is Needed to Succeed?

In short, a small coalition of Brisbane organisations and citizens is needed to support and subsidise speaker event companies to bring more high profile speakers to Brisbane to stage moderated discussions, rather than one-person talks. The key elements we need to source and cover any costs for, are local speakers, facilitator and venue, as well as provide maximum cross-promotion of the event. The only substantial hard cost item is really the venue.

 

Broadly, if these costs are covered in cash, kind or quid pro quo by sponsors, partners, donors and volunteers, there should be no need to underwrite ticket sales, which the event companies are best placed to judge in relation to their visiting speakers' fees and other residual costs. 

For The Brisbane Dialogues to succeed overall, good event fundamentals must be followed by the speaker event companies, as supported by local partners and volunteers:

  • High profile, high quality speakers and facilitators, preferably with their own following, as well as the ability to conduct discussion respectfully and intelligently

  • A good subject, carefully chosen for substance and topicality, of compelling interest to different constituencies, but which is not simply a left/right ideological issue or trigger - not too controversial, but not boring either

  • Suitable quality venues

  • Good timing - probably mid-week, away from public and school holidays  

  • Reasonable ticket prices

  • Strong promotion/media coverage

  • Food and beverages - not necessary, but can be a selling point if generously sponsored

Further notes and details on the main requirements for each event:

1. A speaker event company keen to undertake an event in Brisbane, with a high profile speaker willing to engage in a moderated discussion rather than a lecture, e.g. 

  • Think, Inc. - Suzi Jamil (speakers like Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz, Douglas Murray, Cornel West, Jonathan Haidt et al) 

  • True Arrow Events - Sam McLelland (Jordan Peterson, Jacinta Price, Stephen Hicks, Brendan O’Neill) 

  • Mannkal - Ron Manners (starting to bring international speakers in 2020) 

Think tanks and foundations which sponsor visiting speakers could equally be sources.

2. An Australian, preferably local, speaker (or possibly two) - sourced from the universities, think tanks again, or the community at large through personal networks. 

3. A skilled facilitator capable of operating at the appropriate level and preferably with a public profile, perhaps from local media outlets e.g. Courier-Mail or ABC Brisbane, where there are several good candidates who might be willing in exchange for access to visiting speakers for their own shows.

4. Choosing stimulating or challenging topics which resonate with speakers and audiences will be done by speaker event companies in consultation with the speakers and facilitators. Sponsors will also be consulted and of course can withdraw, but ultimately the choice of topic lies with the speaker event companies which have the greatest interest in and input staging successful events based on enlightening, respectful discourse on worthwhile subjects.

 

5. Suitable quality venues e.g. Ithaca Auditorium at City Hall, Princess Theatre, Customs House, Tivoli Theatre, Powerhouse or Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre auditoria, or one of the modern school performing arts centres (sponsored or donated in kind by event partner/s, preferably with ancillary costs like security and cleaning as well as the hire fee included).

6. Sources of promotion:

  • Marketing lists and scheduled news publications of all partners and sponsors (venue, think tanks, universities, other organisations)

  • Build online following and lists (e.g. Meetups, Facebook, Twitter) 

  • Bookshops (e.g. Riverbend, Avid Reader, Dymocks) 

  • Book publishers (e.g. Connor Court)

  • Mainstream media as quid pro quo for news items and interviews with visiting speakers - especially Courier-Mail and ABC and possibly others.

The Brisbane Dialogues - better discussions

"He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." J.S. Mill