Launceston arts organisations have urged funding for Mona Foma

Premier Will Hodgman hopes to make an announcement soon on whether the government will fund Mona Foma’s move to Launceston.

Three prominent northern Tasmanian arts organisations, Design Tasmania, Tasdance and Junction Arts Festival, have called on the government to make an announcement on funding for the festival to move to Launceston for four years from 2019.

For the first time in its nine-year history Launceston this year hosted Mona Foma.

Design Tasmania chair Dr Pippa Dickson said that the move to Launceston would have important benefits but time was needed to plan the festival.

“It would be an enormous disappointment and backward step if the north was not afforded the same opportunity that Hobart has benefited from,” Dr Dickson said.

“The signalled move north has brought excitement, lifted morale and will have a big impact.

“It will bring new audiences to Launceston and will be huge for businesses.

“It is only seven months away and we want to get on with it because it is not easy to plan at short notice.”

Tasdance chair Professor Peter Matthews said his company was well along the path of developing new work and any change or downgrading would be very disappointing for Tasdance and its many colleagues in the arts.

“The Makers’ Company is the latest innovation from Tasmania’s state dance company and its engagement with Mona Foma is an outstanding cultural partnership,” Professor Matthews said.

“It will be exciting for artists, audiences and communities in the north.”

Chair of Junction Arts Festival and director of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania Liz Frankham said there was a groundswell of support among businesses and organisations in Launceston and Northern Tasmania for Mona Foma.

“We and many others are fully behind this initiative - there is no doubt that it will bring a welcome dynamic and vibrancy,” Ms Frankham said.

“The 2018 event showed the broad appeal and that is just a tiny snippet of what the full event will be.”

Labor leader Rebecca White pledged $8 million over four years for Mona Foma in Launceston.

She said having the festival in the North would see more economic activity, tourist numbers, and valuable international recognition. 

Mr Hodgman said on Thursday he hoped the funding announcement could be “done as speedily as possible.”

“We’re working with the proponents to settle on arrangements for future opportunities and hopefully a decision can be made in the very near future,” he said.