Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail
The flagship TED conference will be staying in Vancouver for at least a few more years. TED curator Chris Anderson says the organization’s main annual conference, which wraps up Friday, will return to the city next year and beyond.
“We want Vancouver to be our home for, you know, as far as we can see,” Mr. Anderson told reporters on Thursday. He said while there is no contractual commitment, the conference has circulated dates to the TED community with Vancouver in mind through 2020. “This is our home for the foreseeable future.”
The conference moved to Vancouver from its long-time home of Long Beach, Calif., last year with a two-year deal. Mr. Anderson says the organization was initially just trying out the Vancouver location.
“When we first came, it was an experiment. We were hopeful of it. We weren’t certain if the community would embrace it and if the theatre would work,” he said. “But the reaction to last year, which was overwhelmingly positive, convinced us we should make this our home.”
Mr. Anderson says the thing that seemed the biggest obstacle to TED working out in Vancouver – the lack of a theatre in which to hold the talks – has turned out to be one of the greatest factors in its success. TED commissioned the design and construction of a pop-up theatre which can be dismantled and reassembled again the next year, which Mr. Anderson says “actually turned into the best theatre we could imagine.” It’s designed to be re-installable at least 10 times.
He also praised the city, which he said was “teeming” with the right facilities, including the Vancouver Convention Centre. “We all just deeply love this venue, we love it. … There’s a sense of wonder. There’s so much room to further use the facilities here to create extraordinary experiences for people.”
The conference, which famously attracts high-profile speakers (including Bill Gates and Monica Lewinsky this year) and high-level, well-heeled attendees (Al Gore has been a regular), is hardly accessible to the average Vancouverite, at a cost of $8,500 (U.S.) to attend. A ticket to the TEDActive conference in Whistler, which simulcasts the TED talks, runs half that amount.
While most of the talks are later released online for free, the conference has offered free live streaming locally, available at some 60 locations during the conference, including libraries, colleges and universities, public plazas and non-profit and community centres.
“That’s basically our way of saying we love this city, we’re grateful for the welcome,” Mr. Anderson said. “We don’t want it to be: Here are a bunch of successful people coming into your city and banging the door shut. We want to share what’s happening here with you since you’ve shared your city with us. That’s the spirit of it.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who was at the conference Thursday, said he is “absolutely thrilled” that Vancouver will be the host city for TED going forward. “Vancouver is a great fit for TED and it’s good to have their vote of confidence and commitment to make TED even stronger here in the future,” he said.
The conference will move to February next year, then April in 2017. Mr. Anderson says the plan is ultimately to stage the conference the same week in April each year.