Vivid Sydney isn’t just about lights and music. In addition to the line-up of exhibitions and events, Vivid – ranked by the UK’s Guardian newspaper as one of the world’s top 10 ideas festivals – is bringing a program of creative ideas, innovation and discussion to Sydney’s newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art.

Vivid Ideas spreads across 18 days with more than 100 public and industry events featuring discussions and debates from the world’s leading creative thinkers. Covering topics from electronic gaming, fashion, film and design, to publishing, architecture and photography, Vivid Ideas is set to add a new dynamic to Vivid Sydney’s public programs and events, in action since 2009.

“Vivid Ideas is a summit, forum and a playground for the creative industries to challenge and inspire ideas and to connect our creators with the support networks and expert guidance that helps convert ideas into applied innovation,” says festival director Jess Scully.

Passionately sharing stories about creativity for over 10 years, Scully is currently writing a book, due for release this month, about creativity and cities and developing strategies to help stimulate an inclusive, sustainable, creative economy.

Here, she’s given us a rundown on her top 10 picks of the festival:

1. Creativity Under Fire: Learning from Limitations
Saturday May 26, 2pm
Veolia Lecture Theatre, MCA
You’ve heard, or used, all the excuses in the book to put off a creative project. There’s always a lack of time, money, space or skills to stop you getting your work into the world. We’re asking artists and creators to reveal the brilliant ways they’ve turned these limitations into opportunities for experimentation and collaboration.

2. Chad Dickerson (ETSY)
Thursday May 31, 6.30pm–8pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, MCA
You’re probably an ETSY addict, or at least know one. ETSY has over 14 million members in 150 countries, making and buying handmade, one-of-a-kind work. We’ll be talking to CEO Chad Dickerson about how they’ve turned their community into a global phenomenon, and he’ll also be talking to local entrepreneurs about how Generation Y is reinventing business.

3. Awesome Soup
Saturday June 2, 7.30pm–9.30pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, MCA
Creative workers need to master the art of the pitch, and this session is a brilliant way to practice the pitch and possibly get a major pay-off: $5000. This dinner will be an entertaining crowd-funding exercise to vote on and support Sydney’s next creative big idea.

4. 25 Years Of RAGE
June 6–16, Daily 10am–6pm
Who doesn’t have a memory of a long, late night watching rage? Many of us have grown up with it, relied on rage to find our next favourite clip or discover what music our idols are into. To celebrate 25 years of rage, Carriageworks and the ABC are presenting a huge exhibition of the best guest programmers, specials and all-night mix tapes.

5. Shane Smith (VICE)
Tuesday June 5, 9pm–10pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, MCA
I have to say, I’ve only recently come to understand what makes Vice such a powerful youth media brand: they’re a rare exception to the trend of declining investment in media. It’s about a lot more than their ‘Do’s’ and Don’ts’ list. It’s because they’ve cultivated such a unique voice and because they’ve invested in original content in print, online and events. I’m looking forward to hearing from their co-founder and CEO Shane Smith, who is also going to take us behind the scenes of their Vice Guide to Travel documentary series.

6. Henry Holland & Jessica Fletcher (House of Holland)
Wednesday June 6, 7pm–8pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, level 6, MCA
UK design star Henry Holland is a huge personality in the world of fashion and with his business director Jessica Fletcher has built an international design brand in just five years, a very short space of time. Holland is coming to Sydney to talk about his journey and to explore the role celebrity and collaborations have played in building his brand.

7. FBi Music Open Day: Making Money from Music
Sunday June 3, 1.30pm–3pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, level 6, MCA
It’s a crucial question: now that so much has changed in the music industry, how do/can independent artists and bands make money from their music? This session is all about getting one-on-one access to experts in label services and marketing, grant writing, merchandise production and crowd funding.

8. Cory Doctorow (
Friday June 1, 6.30pm–8pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, level 6, MCA
Cory Doctorow is an outspoken voice on the rights of creative producers in the online environment, versus the expectation we all have now of being able to access quality content for free, or at a very low cost. How do we balance those competing interests? Do we know what rights we are giving away when we upload content to Youtube, Flickr or Facebook? This session will be an eye-opener for musicians, filmmakers, photographers and anyone who makes and distributes creative content.

9. Jake Nickell (Threadless)
Thursday June 7, 7pm–8.30pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, level 6, MCA
Threadless has really transformed the way we find, support and buy original design and T-shirts. Jake Nickell started Threadless as a passion project 10 years ago with $1000 in this pocket, and has turned it into a business with an annual turnover of over $30 million. Nickell is going to talk to local creative makers about how to turn small ideas into big businesses.

10. Bridging the Digital Divide
Monday May 28, 7.30pm–9.00pm
Vivid Ideas Exchange, level 6, MCA
We all know the world of work has changed, but are we prepared for the future of creative business? Are we educating the next generation for this environment and are we building the skills we need to turn Australia into a creative and digital idea factory? I’m looking forward to hearing from Marita Cheng, 2012 Young Australian of the Year, alongside a new breed or educators and crusaders helping to prepare us for the age of ideas.

And one more for good measure!

Vivid Ideas Exchange Lounge
When you visit the lights of Vivid Sydney or check out a music event at Vivid Live, come up to level 6 of the MCA to check out the view, grab a drink, meet new people and connect with creative thinkers. The Vivid Ideas Exchange Lounge is open nightly during Vivid Sydney, from 7pm.

Vivid Sydney runs from 25 May to 11 June.

Vivid Sydney is developed by Destination NSW, on behalf of the NSW government.