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Backlash follows Hobart Mayor’s Dark Mofo threats

Backlash follows Hobart Mayor’s Dark Mofo threats
June 22, 2018

Hobart Mayor Ron Christie is under fire for comments he made on ABC Radio that the Dark Mofo festival has become too “unhealthy” for the city’s culture.

Mayor Christie suggested that the City Council might reconsider its funding support for the Festival when the three-year $258,000 per year funding deal comes up for review this year.

In the wake of concerns over this year’s inverted crosses displays, Mayor Christie stated “it’s time to put the brakes on.”

In response, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Michael Bailey said the comments “leapt out of the 1950s.”

Bailey told ABC Radio “I think the Lord Mayor is very much out of step and out of touch with the community, and I suspect that there will be a significant backlash.”

The Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TCTA) Chief Executive Luke Martin said that Tasmania had for long tried how to generate interest in the island during the slow winter months.

He advised “Dark Mofo has done it in spades (so) it just seems bizarre that they’d want to kill the golden goose or threaten the golden goose that’s actually laying some of this foundation for us.

“If Hobart doesn’t want Dark Mofo then the people of Burnie or Launceston or Sydney or Melbourne would absolutely dream for it.”

Dark Mofo received criticism this year for some of its events, particularly where artist Mike Parr buried himself for three days under the main street of the city. In addition, a petition to stop the festival’s large 20-metre branding of the inverted cross drew 16,000 signatures.

However, the tourism, business and artistic sectors argue that Dark Mofo will probably generate $100 million to the economy this year.

According to the festival, the last economic report it did showed that in 2015, it brought in $50 million.

The first Dark Mofo, held in June 2013, attracted 128,000 people.

In 2016 it rose to 297,000 generating $2.44 million at the box office, and last year patronage swelled to 444,056.

Tourism executives say that festivals as Dark Mofo and Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) Foma have drawn a younger, more adventurous cashed-up and educated type of tourist from the mainland and that the island’s image has changed from being a backwater to a creative and challenging location.

It has also had a flow-on effect on other artistic businesses.

Tasmania’s tourism numbers rose from 904,000 in 2010 to 1.26 million last year, generating revenues of $2.3 billion.

The Council's three-year funding deal for Dark Mofo is up for renegotiation this year, and Mayor Christie wants to sit down with the festival's creative director Leigh Carmichael to talk about its future.

Mayor Christie said he and his colleagues had been inundated with complaints about the festival, including the "unhealthy culture" it was generating.

He added “they say the mark of a good city is how well you look after your citizens, and I think the citizens have expressed their concerns about different aspects of Dark Mofo and which way it's going culturally.

"Hobart is a community city, and it's Hobart, not Mobart."

The so-called ‘MONA effect’ has seen an expansion into the regional areas, but the pulling power of the museum has not necessarily transposed to regional areas during the winter festival.

While the entire state benefits from tourism during the summer months, it is largely Hobart which enjoys the success of Dark Mofo in the winter.

TCTA’s Martin feels that not enough tourists are travelling outside of Hobart, adding “the next challenge from my perspective is to look at what's worked in the city and how do we try to extend that into some of the regional parts of the state of the cooler months because while it's very busy in Hobart today it's certainly not the case in Stanley and Strahan.

"I think the opportunity for Dark Mofo is for individual regions around other parts of the state or indeed operators or local destinations will be to look at what can we do to leverage off this market, or indeed partner with the event themselves."

Images: Dark Mofo's inverted crosses on the Hobart waterfront have been criticised by family and church groups (top, coutersy of MONA/Rémi Chauvin) and the installation Spectra by Japanese sound and light artist Ryoji Ikeda shoots light 15 kilometres into the Hobart skies (below, courtesy of MONA/Jesse Hunniford).

9th June 2018 - DARK MOFO’S INVERTED CROSSES GENERATE CONTROVERSY 

24th June 2017 - DARK MOFO WELCOMES MASSIVE ATTENDANCE RISE

11th December 2016 - MONA REVEALS PLANS FOR RECONCILIATION ART PARK IN HOBART 

15th June 2016 - DARK MOFO OVERCOMES TICKET SCALPING ISSUE AND OPENS TO ACCLAIM

26th January 2016 - CULTURAL FIGURES AND PHILANTHROPISTS RECOGNISED IN AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS

15th December 2015 - MONA FOUNDER REVEALS PLANS FOR CASINO AND HOTEL DEVELOPMENT 

16th October 2015 - MORE THAN 300 ARTISTS TO PERFORM AT 2016 MOFO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC AND ART FESTIVAL IN HOBART 

18th August 2015 - LONELY PLANET NAMES THREE TASMANIAN DESTINATIONS IN ‘ULTIMATE TRAVEL LIST’ 

23rd August 2014 - TASMANIA LOOKS TO BOOST TOURISM IN ITS NATURAL AREAS 


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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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