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Mona Foma looks to Lonnie

Edition 186_Brian Ritchie ...a new creative journey

Hobart has been Monaised ahead of schedule and the annual summer festival, Mona Foma, is now looking to work its transformative magic on Launceston.

Curator Brian Ritchie said in July the festival’s original 10-year plan was to change the culture of Hobart, but that goal had been achieved early.

“Mona Foma’s philosophy has always been to bring variety and depth of contemporary and traditional Arts practices to the general public,” Mr Ritchie said.

“We’d like to embark upon a new creative journey, to relocate to Launceston in search of new challenges, new collaborations, fresh partnerships.”

MONA will now work with the State Government’s Events Tasmania on funding for the move.

If all goes well a free, pop-up Mofo event will be held in Launceston next year, along with the annual Hobart festival.

Then the full Mona Foma would move north in 2019.

MONA owner David Walsh announced the plan at a Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) luncheon in Hobart in July.

The Chairman of the TICT, Daniel Leesong, called it a “transformational project”.

Launceston’s Mayor, Albert van Zetten, said it offered an “incredible opportunity” to his city.

Alderman van Zetten said the MONA brand was synonymous with Tasmania’s recent tourism boom.

“While tourism is still thriving in the north and in Launceston to the tune of an 11 per cent increase last year, we see this announcement by Mr Walsh as an incredible opportunity to continue that growth and to help further investment and jobs growth in our great city,” he said.

Bass Liberal MP, Sarah Courtney, said the festival would be a “strong addition” to the Launceston scene.

Launceston Art Society president Carolyn Riley said: “Any potential for advancing the performing and visual Arts in the north has to be explored.

“MONA has become an international icon.

“We should take every opportunity to share the love.”

Launceston is on the brink of an urban transformation with a $5 million Better Cities deal and the $260 million relocation of the UTAS campus into the CBD.

Plans were announced in July for a 78-room hotel to be built opposite the Albert Hall in Tamar Street.

Singapore’s Fragrance Group also plans to develop the Clarion Hotel site, while works continue on local developer Errol Stewart’s Silo Hotel project and JAC Group’s $40 million plan for the TRC Hotel site.

Tourism to the city is on the rise.

Mona Foma would, hopefully, complement Launceston’s popular annual Festivale (FestMo, perhaps?).

Since its inception in 2009, Mona Foma has been at the forefront of a cultural and tourism renaissance in Hobart.

Its winter step-sister, Dark Mofo, has also been spectacularly successful, smashing all its attendance records in June this year.

Mr Ritchie, the former Violent Femmes frontman, said: “We want to make Mona Foma bigger, better, more creative, more diverse and more famous (and by famous we mean infamous).”

Image courtesy of Brian Ritchie

Footnote: Mona Foma 2017 was judged Australia’s Best Contemporary Music Festival at the Helpmann Awards in Sydney in July.

1 August 2017, Edition 186

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