Tasmanian winter festival Dark Mofo cancelled over coronavirus fears

The organisers of Tasmania’s Dark Mofo have cancelled this year’s festival over coronavirus concerns.

The winter festival, organised by the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), was due to be held in Launceston in June.

Creative director Leigh Carmichael said the decision to cancel was made 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.

“Our current priority is to minimise the implications and cost on our audience, artists, suppliers, sponsors and key stakeholders, and support our staff through a challenging period.”

Mona founder David Walsh.

Mona founder David Walsh described it as “killing Dark Mofo for the year”.

“I know that will murder an already massacred tourism environment, but I feel like I have no choice,” Walsh said in a statement.

“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 conceded he would rather be “a rich coward than a poor hero”.

“I’m pouring cold water on Dark Mofo while there’s still water to pour,” he said.

“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. But that’s the best thing that could happen.

“So we’ll see you next year.”