Speaking at a Labor announceable, on a promise of funding for MONA FOMA — a music and arts festival backed by David Walsh’s ever-expanding Museum of Old and New Art conglomerate — Launceston Chamber of Commerce head Neil Grose waxed lyrical about the MONA content, and the impact of MONA’s Dark Mofo festival on the Tasmanian economy.

But he was less enthusiastic about the prospect of a Launceston version of MONA’s DDT — the Dark and Dangerous Thoughts Festival, to take place in Hobart in mid-winter. DDT is another in the genre of “Dangerous Ideas” festivals, with a programme yet to be announced — save for Canadian First Nations’ throat-singer Inuk, a defender of Canada’s annual seal hunt. Last year’s Dark Mofo included a controversial performance by Hermann Nitsch, an Austrian (what else?) artist featuring a bull carcass and 500 litres of blood, and dubbed ‘one of the most cutting-edge performance pieces of 1973’.

“Well that festival’s been controversial,” Grose said of Dark Mofo, noting that we were talking about a music festival, as a bagpiper and saxophonist, the latter in a spotted-cow onesie, tuned up ominously in the background. When pressed on whether Launceston would ever have a Dark and Dangerous Thoughts festival, Grose did not reply, which Crikey took as a “nuh”.

Walsh’s increasing role in Tasmania’s tourist economy has not been welcomed by all. One senior member of north Tasmania’s powerful Christian Reformed Church — Senator Eric Abetz’s powerbase — told Crikey he believed Walsh’s festivals to be, theologically speaking, “satanic”.

On an up note, Peppa Pig and Friends will be at the city’s Theatre North in July.

*Correction: Neil Grose’s name was spelled incorrectly in the first version of this story.

Peter Fray

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