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Biennale Case Study

Opening Night Party Case Study:

16th Biennale of Sydney - 2800 pax

The Brief

The Biennale of Sydney is Australia’s premier international arts festival. With a 35-year history, it is positioned as one of the world’s most respected events of its kind.

The theme for the 2008 Biennale was “Revolution”.

MSF was approached to take the theme and use it to create an opening night party that would:

  1. Showcase the unique and avant garde nature of the exhibition.
  2. Be the most relevant party that the Sydney Art World had ever seen.

The MSF Solution

MSF proposed Cockatoo Island as the ideal venue to stage the Opening Night Party. Located on Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island is a former prison, industrial school, reformatory and the site of one of Australia's biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. It represented the Revolution theme perfectly and was a unique location to inspire and excite the invited guests.

MSF facilitated a seamless installation and build by locking all suppliers into a schedule and barged all equipment including large trucks and temporary buildings onto the site. We developed a detailed risk management plan to ensure risk and potential injury on the ex-industrial site was minimised.

On the night guests were welcomed onto chartered ferries, which operated throughout the evening between Circular Quay and Cockatoo Island. Guests were mesmerised as they approached the island and witnessed the cliff face washed in red light that could be seen for kilometres along the harbour.

On arrival at the island guests entered the event via a walkway of flaming oil drums and then via a mine shaft style entrance, complete with customised sound scape.

The event space utilised the red lighting and focused on highlighting the building’s industrial aspects.

In contrast to the harsh landscape, guests indulged in five star catering served from temporary kitchens and bars and enjoyed the comfort of prestige bathrooms brought in especially for the event.

Sydney’s hottest DJ’s ramped up the party vibe and guests on the dance floor and in a specially designed VIP lounge celebrated in the party atmosphere.

Guests departed the event along a specially designed runway lit with hundreds of red bike lights, to guide them safely to the ferry wharf and ensure that their exit was as fascinating as their arrival.

The Outcome

A record number of guests attended the Opening Night Party, with the event receiving rave reviews from all quarters. John McDonald, Author and Art Critic of the Sydney Morning Herald, described it as the “best opening night party” he has ever been to.

MSF Events were asked within days of the opening night to create another spectacular party for the 2010 Biennale of Sydney. We are confident it will be another great success!