Ignatius Jones is one of the world’s leading Major Event Directors, Creative Strategists and Event Script-Writers. Ignatius is presently the Executive Producer of the 2011 Vivid Sydney Festival, having completed a successful stint as the first Artistic Director of the Sydney Mardi Gras since 1992.
Ignatius Jones’ 2010 credits include Artistic Directorof theOpening Ceremony of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China, the largest major event in peacetime history, as well as Artistic Director of the Ceremonies of Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, which featured ground-breaking technological innovations, including the largest scenic projection set-up ever attempted. The Vancouver Opening Ceremony was awarded three Emmy Awards, for best direction, best lighting and best music. The Shanghai event featured an unheard-of set-up of 12,000 7-kilowatt full-colour searchlights, 12 x 16-watt and 4 x 23-watt full-colour lasers, a choreographed parade of 240 catamarans on the Huangpu river, an LED screen 280m wide and 40m high, and approximately 12 times the amount of fireworks fired on a Sydney New Year’s Eve celebration over a quarter of the space.
Together, the Shanghai and Vancouver Ceremonies were the two biggest events in 2010, and Ignatius has directed them both almost simultaneously.
In 2006 Ignatius was Artistic Director of the Ceremonies of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. An Olympic event, the Asian Games are the largest sporting event after the Summer Olympics, and the Ceremonies were watched by an estimated 3 billion people, across Asia and the world. The Ceremonies were the first truly multi-media Olympic event ever staged and featured a 120m wide by 45m high LED screen – not only the largest LED screen ever attempted, but also the largest lighting device in history (until the screen created in Shanghai). The Ceremonies also featured the world’s first ‘kinetic’ cauldron, a massive sculptural device that never stopped moving and rotating, and evoked both the rings of an atom and the planetary orbits of our solar system.
In 2005 Ignatius also wrote and devised The Australian Outback Spectacular, an AUD$23 million arena attraction for Warner-Village Theme Parks on Australia’s Gold Coast. The show opened in April 2006 to great acclaim, and has been consistently sold out ever since.
He personally directed the three largest live events in Australian history: the City of Sydney’s Millennium Celebrations, the Harbour Spectacular of the Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics, and the City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve and Centenary of Federation Celebrations 2000-2001.
He is also one of the few directors ever to direct the “opening night of a country”, when he staged the Independence Ceremonies of the Democratic Republic of East Timor in May 2002, at the invitation of Nobel Laureate José Ramos-Horta and President Xanana Gusmão. This ceremony, to mark the birth of the world’s newest nation, was attended by 175,000 people and over 40 world leaders, including Kofi Annan, John Howard, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Bill Clinton, and the presidents of Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique. The event featured indigenous cultural components from all Timor’s 13 districts, massed choirs, indigenous equestrian and dancing displays, contemporary, classical and traditional music, and mass choreography from 3,000 schoolchildren and 2,000 tribesmen and women. The following day Ignatius and his team staged the official Opening and Swearing-In of the Timorese Parliament. Taking place both inside and outside the country’s new state-of-the-art Parliament Building, the ceremony was attended by many of the VVIPs who attended the previous night’s Ceremony, and was also beamed around the world.
On his return from East Timor Ignatius plunged into another large and innovative project: Man From Snowy River —The Arena Spectacular, which he wrote, devised and directed with his Olympic colleague David Atkins. Snowy achieved several “firsts”: with a cast of over 250, 47 horses and two dogs, it was the largest commercial theatre event in Australian history — and the first such ‘arena’ event to be entirely Australian in conception, execution and content. Snowy was also a resounding commercial success, playing return seasons in all the major capital cities, while the soundtrack received an ARIA Award for Best Soundtrack Album 2002.
- David and Ignatius received the 2003 Green Room Award for Best Director of a Musical for Man From Snowy River.
Almost simultaneously Ignatius also directed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games, the sixth international Gay Games and the biggest sporting event in Australia since the Olympics. The Opening Ceremony, featuring international artists kd lang and Jimmy Somerville, 14,000 athletes and 2,500 volunteer performers — and was described by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Bryce Hallett as “…a triumph… thoughtful, historic, stylish and jubilant… an absolutely fabulous night.”
- Ignatius received the 2003 Sydney Star Observer Pride Week Award for Best Event for the Sydney 2002 Gay Games Opening Ceremony. He was also awarded the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Business Association’s inaugural award for Eminent Businessperson for Services to the Community.
At the end of 2003, Ignatius was Artistic Director for the City of Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve Celebrations (The Age described the 2003-2004 New Year’s fireworks as “…inspiring”.)
In January 2005, Ignatius produced the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudia Arabia (Feb 19-21, 2005), the largest corporate event of its kind in the Middle East. Speakers included Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Afghan PM Hamid Karzai, Nigerian PM Olusegun Obasanjo, Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, President of Senegal Abdulaye Wade, Czech President Vaçlav Klaus, Pakistani PM Shawkat Aziz, Prince Sultan bin Salman (Saudi Minister for Tourism and Education, and the first Arab in space), Malaysian PM Abdullah Badawi, and Prince Andrew of Great Britain.
In 2003 Ignatius directed Offenbach’s Orpheus In The Underworld for the Australian Opera, which the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter McCallum described as “… with its non-stop invention, ubiquitous fireworks and every trick post-millennial Sydney could throw at it… It triumphantly came together…” while Michael Easton in the Melbourne Herald-Sun described it as “…outstanding, totally irreverent, hilarious. An Orpheus for all.”
- Ignatius received an 2004 Australian Green Room Award nomination for Best Director of an Opera, for Orpheus in the Underworld.
- Ignatius also devised, and co-wrote a new translation of Orpheus from the French, with colleagues Philip Scott and Jonathans Biggins. The three of them received an AWGIE Award for Best Adaptation of a Dramatic Work from the Australian Writers’ Guild.
In 2000, Ignatius directed the beginning of the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, the spectacular Man From Snowy River charge of 121 horses into the stadium and the performance of the Australian Anthem by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simone Young, a swing big band, 40 fanfare trumpets, national icons Julie Anthony and James Morrison, pop group Human Nature and a 1400-piece choir. With an estimated viewing audience of 3 billion, the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics was the biggest television event of all time, while the pyrotechnic display that climaxed the Closing Ceremony – a display stretching sixteen-and-a-half kilometres from Homebush Bay to the eastern edge of Sydney Harbour and featuring fireworks’ companies from five continents – was one of the biggest pyrotechnic displays in history.
- The Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics were awarded the inaugural Helpmann Award for Best Event in 2001.
In creating these events, Ignatius devised three grand effects which still resonate with millions of viewers: the giant Eternity on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which so touched Australians that many demanded the vast light-sculpture be permanently left in place; the Closing Ceremony finale – the ‘blowing up’ of the Olympic Rings on the Bridge, which received front-page coverage from The New York Times as “Aussie Olympics go out with a bang!” and from The Melbourne Age as “The perfect end”; and of course, the huge light-sculpture on the Harbour bridge, (bigger than two football fields), at the centre of Sydney’s tribute to Australia’s 100th birthday, the indigenous Rainbow Serpent circling the Federation Star. And for the Sydney’s 2001 NYE celebrations he created the largest light sculpture ever attempted, a spectacular, animated vision of Uluru surmounted by the Dove of Peace, a light sculpture which used more than 11 kms of ropelight.
As Artistic Director of the City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Celebrations from 1997 to 2002, Ignatius was responsible for transforming an event which the Sydney Morning Herald once described as a “…giant piss-up with crackers on the Harbour” into the biggest annual event in Australia, an international pyrotechnic benchmark and a family occasion that has become a highlight of the city’s year. He also built the event up from a single 20 minute fireworks display into a three-day festival which included six free concerts spanning a gamut of genres including pop, jazz, country, classical and children’s music; outdoor food and beverage sites in six locations; ‘live sites’ featuring live entertainment, vending and superscreens — aswell as coordinating one of the biggest television broadcasts of the year. He was also closely involved in seeking and managing the corporate and government sponsorship that made the events possible.
Ignatius is no stranger to the Australian entertainment industry, where he has been a well-known fixture for over 20 years. After training in classical ballet, he branched out into fields as varied as rock music, jazz, journalism, theatre, television and now major event production. He is a singer, dancer, director and writer whose credits include several Gold Album Awards, two best selling books and a Platinum Record for his work on the soundtrack of Strictly Ballroom. As a television director he has achieved two Platinum Awards for the children’s videos Monica’s House and Monica’s Seaside Adventure, and in 1998 completed The Magic Toyshop, the first Australian production of the Disney Corporation. His most recent children’s video, Monica’s Trip to the Moon, was nominated for an ARIA award.
As an Artistic Director, Ignatius has worked extensively with Olympic impresario Ric Birch’s Spectak Productions, starting in 1994 when he was employed by Ric to devise direct the opening spectacular for the Crown Casino Galleria. Birch then brought him to the USA to devise and direct shows for the Dixie Stampede, Dolly Parton’s chain of rodeo theatres across the southern United States. Two of these shows achieved Best Entertainment of the Year Awards.
On his return he researched and devised the Olympic Journey Begins for the Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, the travelling exhibition and roadshow that kicked off Australia’s Olympiad. Olympic Journey Begins toured 27 cities and towns over 6 months, and was visited by 3 million people.
In 1996 Ignatius went to Melbourne to direct the huge production numbers for the multimillion dollar Opening of the Crown Entertainment Complex — which featured the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anthony Warlow, Ray Charles, John Farnham, Kylie Minogue and 120 dancers. Other major events he has directed for Spectak include everything from the launch of the Australian Navy’s newest warships to the creation of the largest-ever Barbie doll for the 40th birthday celebrations of the world’s most popular toy.
Ignatius became the Artistic Director of the City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Celebrations in 1997, and in 1999 was responsible for the artistic concepts behind the Sydney Millennium Celebrations – which CNN described as “Wow!” and “The best in the world”. Together with designer Peter England, he devised the Harbour of Light Marine Lantern Parade, a cavalcade of giant lanterns each the size of a three-and-a-half storey terrace house and representing the creatures of Sydney Harbour. And, of course, he was a guiding spirit for the giant Eternity sign on the Sydney Harbour Bridge which struck such a chord with the city and the world. Anthony Dennis of the Sydney Morning Herald described Eternity as “the word of the millennium”.
Ignatius Jones is represented exclusively by HLA Management Pty Ltd