Launceston is abuzz - there's a festival in town.
This week, the city has hosted the weird, wonderful and beautiful Mona Foma Festival for the second time.
A signature event in the arts and cultural scene, what's wonderful about Mona Foma is that even if you are not typically an "artsy person", this festival has something for everyone. There are free events, like meditation in the Cataract Gorge Fairy Dell, orchestrated by "Festival Dad" Brian Ritchie or the performances of King Ubu, which has also taken over the Gorge.
Or there are the signature experience events, such as the Architects of Air daedalum luminarium that has set up shop in Royal Park. Arts are often spoken about as something lofty, unattainable or unexplained, but their value to our communities is incredibly high.
The Mona Foma Festival drags people from all around Tasmania and Australia, as evidenced in the popular Air Mofo competition. The competition plane landed on the tarmac at the Launceston Airport on Friday, bringing with it competition winners who will spend the weekend inhaling all of the wonders the festival has to offer. Launceston has truly embraced Mona Foma, in a way where it may not have ever been able to elsewhere, due to its number of diverse community spaces.
Arts should not be undervalued, as it is one of the oldest ways that human beings communicated with each other and it continues to be used as a model for self-expression. However, even the most inexplicable piece of art (banana taped to a wall, anyone?) can get people talking - and as the Mona effect can testify, can truly create a vibrant and unique pillar in Tasmania's economy.
That is what makes the federal government's decision to merge the Arts Department and absorb it into the wider Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications in December even more baffling.
Art is a form of communication, but it is even more so becoming an economic driver, one that creates a point of uniqueness and it should not be undervalued.