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Tasmania’s Dark Mofo Cancelled Over Coronavirus Fears

“We’ll see you next year. Assuming, that is, another black swan doesn’t cause another white elephant,” explained Dark Mofo founder David Walsh.

Image of Dark Mofo in 2018

"We’re killing Dark Mofo for the year," organisers said of the forthcoming event.

Tasmania’s beloved Dark Mofo festival is being put on ice for 2020, with organisers citing fears of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for its postponement.

Having served as one of Australia’s most unique festivals for over a decade now, Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael notes that the decision was made with “deep regret and sadness”, while explaining their decision may have long-lasting effects on the festival itself.

“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,” Carmichael explained. “The implications of COVID-19 and subsequent travel, financial and logistical issues are beyond our control.

“The financial exposure faced by [Mona founder David Walsh] of a festival-wide last minute cancellation would run into the millions and likely end the event permanently. We’ve had to act decisively to ensure Dark Mofo’s long-term survival.”

In a seperate statement, David Walsh explained that much of the decision revolves around the fact that the current climate of fear has made it difficult to sell tickets to the event.

“Right now, the government and Mona are each on the hook for $2 million to run Dark Mofo. That’s bad,” Walsh explained. “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. Leigh Carmichael, Dark Mofo’s boss, suggested an $8 million scenario: if a staff member contracted COVID-19 a week out from the festival, we’d have to cancel because the staff would need to self-isolate for two weeks, but we’d also have to pay all the artists.”

“”It’s likely that nothing will happen. June will roll up, COVID-19 will die down, and I’ll look (more) like a fool for having cancelled,” he continued. “But that’s 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.

“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.

“So we’ll see you next year. Assuming, that is, another black swan doesn’t cause another white elephant.”

While the likes of US outfit Bon Iver were set to appear at the festival in June, the band’s Australian tour are still set to take place as planned. Details regarding the 2021 event’s program are expected to be released towards the end of the year.