The Sydney Opera House on Saturday night illuminated its iconic sails with images of firefighters in solidarity for those impacted by Australia’s catastrophic bushfire crisis.
Beyond firefighters, the kaleidoscopic display included images of volunteers, emergency crews embracing one another, and a hand-painted sign that read “thank you firies.” The display, which began at 8.30 p.m. and ran for over two hours, was intended to “send [a] message of hope and strength to the people of Australia.”
"Tonight, we are illuminating the Sydney Opera House sails to show our support for everyone affected by the Australian bushfires,” the Opera House said on Twitter. “We want to send a message of hope and strength, and importantly to thank the emergency services and volunteers for their incredible efforts and courage.”
The current bushfires in Australia are the country’s worst in modern history.
Fires have been raging since September and have so far burned over 10 million hectares, displaced tens of thousands of people, damaged 2,600 homes, and killed 27 people and an estimated 1 billion animals. Smoke from the fires has also seen air pollution spike to record-breaking levels in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
Last week, air quality in Canberra was the worst in the world.
The nation’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has linked the severity of the fires to unprecedented heat and drought from human-driven climate change.
"Climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions in Australia,” BoM writes on its website. “Including through influencing temperature, environmental moisture, weather patterns, and fuel conditions.”
Tonight the @SydneyOperaHouse sails are illuminated in support of the communities affected by the bushfires in Australia & the firefighters defending them. We are incredibly grateful to all those who are protecting our communities, wildlife & environment.— Sydney.com (@sydney_sider) January 11, 2020
The Sydney Opera House has also revealed it will partner with entertainment company Live Nation to host a comedy gala to raise money for affected communities.
On March 16, the Comedy Steps for Bushfire Relief event will feature performances by comedians like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here host Julia Morris, international star Tim Minchin, American talent Arj Barker, and Harry Shearer, a voice actor on The Simpsons.
Tickets start from $149 AUD, and all proceeds will go to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, and wildlife rescue services WIRES and Wildlife Victoria.
The bushfire display isn't the first time the Opera House’s sails have lit up recently in support of a good cause.
In October, the building's eastern sail displayed the 17 colors of the United Nations’ (UN) Global Goals in honor of the Opera House becoming the first Australian arts center to sign up to the landmark commitment.
The commitment to the goals is expected to help the building “support inclusion, diversity, and equality, and safeguard the natural environment” ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2023.
Wondering how you can support the fire relief efforts? Learn more here.