date FRIDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2018 | venue VODACOM WORLD | time 09:30 - 16:00 | cost R1500 STANDARD

For some reason, people expect TEDx events to be more affordable than comparable events of the same stature and prestige. Some people even express shock and dismay when they find out that TEDx events are not free to attend. This probably comes from the fact that TED and TEDx talks are available free of charge on and on YouTube.


What many people do not process is that while it costs almost nothing to distribute the videos, the events themselves cost a lot of money to produce. That is why they famously generate such memorable experiences, for both speakers and attendees. The annual TED event that takes place in Vancouver, Canada, costs $10K to attend. And most people who have attended the event describe the experience as priceless. For the speakers, their talks take over their lives the minute they accept the invitation to speak, and their lives change forever the moment they step off the stage.


That’s TED. A different planet. Let’s come back home to TEDx.


TED prescribes a maximum fee of $100 for Level-1 licensed TEDx events, and $250 for Level-2 events. These amounts are calculated to make it possible for a larger group of people to participate, while keeping the events viable and sustainable. Pointedly, because of the ubiquity of TED and TEDx talks online, in classrooms, lecture halls, and in boardrooms, audiences have come to expect TEDx events to deliver high quality experiences, with these expectations often surpassing the value of the amounts stated above.


TEDxJohannesburg is a Level-2 event. Meaning that the event is expected to feature bells and whistles that would not be expected of an ordinary Level-1 event. Furthermore, a Level-2 event is required to meet the following conditions: have an experienced organising team (our core team has organised over 30 events since 2009), the license holder to have attended a TED or TEDGlobal event in the past (the licensee for TEDxJohannesburg has been to 13 and seen over 500 talks delivered live on the TED stage), received overwhelmingly positive feedback from previous events (our net promoter score average is 8 out of 10), at least one of your talks to have been featured on or to have been viewed over 15000 times on YouTube (5 of our speakers are on, the collective view count of our talks is 8 million, a few have been viewed in the millions).


None of these conditions are easy to meet, least of all attending TED, or TEDGlobal. Organisers—who work as volunteers—are expected to dig into their own pockets to pay for flights, accommodation, and the not-so-small attendance fee. Generously, TED often makes it possible for organisers to pay a reduced fee of $3000 and $6000 depending on the event. Cold comfort for most TEDx organisers, especially those based in struggling economies like ours. But, passion, hustle and an unbending belief in the power of ideas to change the world have conspired to push many to attend, including ourselves, organisers of TEDxJohannesburg.


Lastly, and in addition to all this, our team has had the privilege of working directly with, and learning from the TED team, on the most important aspects of the event. These include curating the speaker lineup, coaching the speakers, producing the event, and shooting the talks. And, uniquely for TEDx organisers, the license holder of TEDxJohannesburg was selected to co-host TEDGlobal 2017 alongside TED curator Chris Anderson, and other members of the TED team. The learnings, as you can imagine, were incalculable.


As volunteers and members of the TEDxJohannesburg team—all of us are skilled professionals in our day-jobs—we've taken our time, experience, knowledge, access, contacts, passions, sacrifices, generousity, and mastery, and packaged those into a $100 (R1500) standard ticket price for TEDxJohannesburg 2018: Decoding Greatness. This price is less than half what TED recommends. Yet, we know that as low as this price might be by global standards, it is still prohibitive for many people here. That’s why we've said if you are a student you get to pay no more than $25 (R350). And if you work for an NGO you pay half, or only $50 (R750). 


We've gone further and said if you are a millennial, based anywhere in Africa, and if you have an idea that could change the world in some small way, we'll let 100 of you and your peers in at no cost to you, through our 100Ideas100Millennials activation. Plus, you might even win 1 of 10 double tickets worth $400 each (R3000 x 2) to see Beyonce and Jay-Z (and many others) perform live in Johannesburg, if you can get yourself here. As if that’s not enough, after the concert we'll organise members of the broader TEDxJohannesburg community to mentor you for a full year, and help push your idea to the next level. Again, at no cost to you.


Ultimately, though, everything comes down to mathematics, and the laws of physics. Ticket price = budget = quality. As with a black hole, we simply can’t escape this fact. 


The amount we’re asking for, to help make all this possible, is more than fair, we think.