Tasmania’s Dark Mofo joins cultural events like South by SouthWest and Coachella in cancelling the upcoming festival, as MONA owner David Walsh “fears” a multi-million deficit.
Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) winter music and arts festival ‘Dark Mofo’ has been cancelled due to growing concerns surrounding the impact of COVID-19. The festival was due to be held in June.
Dark Mofo’s creative director Leigh Carmichael said in a statement the decision came with “deep regret” and "sadness”.
“After a thorough risk assessment on the potential impact and disruption of coronavirus, we have been left with no option other than to move the current program to 2021,” he said.
“The implications of COVID-19, and subsequent travel, financial and logistical issues, are beyond our control.”
The owner of MONA, David Walsh posted a statement on the Dark Mofo website defending the decision, indicating that Dark Mofo events beyond 2020 might be at risk if he proceeded with this year’s festival.
The statement began with a line borrowed from Shakespeare: “advantage is a better soldier than rashness.”
“We’re killing Dark Mofo for the year. I know that will murder an already massacred tourism environment, but I feel like I have no choice (hint: that means I have a choice),” he said.
“Right now, the government and Mona are each on the hook for $2 million to run Dark Mofo. That’s bad. What’s worse, as far as I’m concerned, is that if we ran Dark and nobody came, I’d lose $5 million or more, because I would have to cover the absent ticket revenue.”
Walsh says it’s likely nothing will happen, and he may end up looking like a “fool” for cancelling the “the heart of darkness” but he says that’s only the “best thing that could happen.”
“The worst thing that could happen is not me trashing my cash. We could soldier on, without consideration or advantage, have the crowd turn up anyway, and send them home sick. But that wouldn’t be the worst thing, either,” he said.
“Worse than that, for me at least, would be proceeding with Dark Mofo and having it fail, and thus having it become the final Dark Mofo. That would mean facing a future of Hobart winters unpunctuated by pageantry, and thus returning to a tyranny of complacency – that worse-than-COVID Hobart malaise of believing we don’t have to seek to do more, and we don’t have to seek to do better.”