When Mona Foma was given the green light to go ahead in September last year, it came at a time when Tasmania's arts and events scene was at its knees. This is still very much the case.
Yet suddenly there was a light at the end of the tunnel - something Tasmanian artists could work towards.
Now just two weeks into 2021 - a year still dominated by so much uncertainty - Launceston is hosting not only the first major festival in Tasmania, but one of the first major events for Australia.
And while previous years have relied heavily on international and interstate acts as the drawcard, this time around it's Tasmanian artists, venues and businesses that are taking centre stage.
Up to 90 per cent of the lineup are Tasmanian-based acts.
Further, leading into the event on Friday up to 40 per cent of ticket sales were with interstate visitors. Clearly, there is a nationwide hunger for connection that only events like Mona Foma can satisfy.
Indeed the positive impacts, both economic and cultural, existed long before COVID came into the picture. But now more than ever industries need our support - and not just those in the arts space.
Mona Foma is a win for tourism, small business - the flow of effects seem endless.
Still it hasn't come easy. As curator Brian Ritchie put it, the real stars of this year's event are those working behind the scenes, navigating the challenges that come with making an event as COVID-safe as possible.
This included keeping numbers smaller, and the situations more controlled, with limited capacities to ensure people are comfortable, and ultimately safe.
The state government should also be given credit for being brave enough to back an event of this scale, at a time when it would have been easier to keep playing it safe.
Events like Mona Foma have always prided themselves on creativity and innovation.
But it is this type of sensible, yet effective approach that should be applauded and used as an example for future events to come.
Because the reality of COVID is going to be with us for some time yet.
As such, innovation and reinvention will remain one of our greatest strengths.
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