1. We are getting bigger crowds. Would the Domain Trust please erect a shed close by to hold 200 chairs? And then provide the 200 chairs? A few people now come especially to Speakers’ Corner to listen, but there are only 25 chairs to sit on, and those chairs fill quickly. If plenty of chairs were provided, growth would be exponential. Soon we speakers would be filling 200 chairs every week.
Currently, one of the speakers brings the 25 chairs in his small car. Unless he buys a stretch limo (and that’s unlikely) we will be limited to 25 chairs.
With an audience of 200 we would attract more speakers. We could even aim for known, experienced speakers who might enjoy a one-off gig in which they could discard the normal public speaking niceties and let fly: Paul Keating, John Howard, Mark Latham, Fran Kelly, Waleed Aly, Malcolm Turnbull, Robyn Williams, Russell Crowe (he lives close by) . . .
With large crowds and a range of speakers, Speakers’ Corner in the Domain could return to the thriving hub it once was.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Then just imagine the intellectual sparring between Paul Keating and Mirko Terzic. How fascinating that would be!
And then . . . and then Sydney will have a major tourist attraction every Sunday. Apart from the initial outlay of shed and chairs, it would cost nothing to run. As a tourist attraction it would be a fresh and very different addition to the ones we currently have. Plus, it would be free. It would be fun. It would be healthy.
London’s Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park is still a major tourist attraction.
“We walked through Hyde Park looking for Speakers’ Corner, which – especially for us as East Germans – was legendary, the very symbol of free speech. I hope that is not an insult to you, the members of the British Parliament.”
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in London to both Houses of the British Parliament 27 Feb 2014
With a little support, Speakers’ Corner could become as popular as Hyde Park, London. At little cost to the Doman Trust and at no cost to Sydney.
Unfortunately, the board members of the Domain Trust do not even reply to our letters. So asking them to erect a shed is pointless.
A year ago they promised to include Speakers’ Corner in their Botanic Gardens website. They couldn’t even keep that promise.
2. Today was a lot of fun. It was fast and furious with speakers and hecklers. A guy (Philip Feinstein) got up to speak on behalf of refugees. He was heckled but gave as good as he got. He runs ‘Music For Refugees’ which asks people and schools to donate unwanted musical instruments to detention centres around Australia. Philip believes that musical instruments will raise the spirits of the refugees and give them something to do. Something tells me he’s right.
Philip’s view of ‘the boat people’ is interesting. His video is below.
3. We speakers and hecklers are making a difference. Your scribe can see how many people look at this website, and for some time now there has been a strong pattern. Every Sunday there are far more hits than throughout the week. That means, passers-by are so intrigued by the goings-on that when they get home they google our Speakers’ Corner. In each of the last two Sundays we have had over fifty hits.
We average 200 hits a week.
The most popular page on this site is, by far, ‘The History of Speakers’ Corner’ written by Steve Maxwell. His segment ‘Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade’ is also popular. He’s a clever lad, that Steve.
4. Speaking of Doug, he told us that we need to be fearful of nuclear war. His words reminded this scribe of the picture below.