MONA pulls pin on summer festival as magic wears off

The summer event of Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art has joined a growing list of nationwide festival cancellations.

Museum owner and founder David Walsh announced on Friday MONA FOMA had "unleashed its mayhem" for the final time after 16 years.

It comes after music winter festival Splendour in the Grass, held at Byron Bay in northern NSW, recently pulled the pin on its 2024 event. 

MONA owner David Walsh
David Walsh says he wants to focus on expanding MONA in Hobart's northern suburbs.

Walsh said MONA FOMA, which has attracted artists including PJ Harvey, Peaches, David Byrne and Gotye, had been "magical" but the spell had worn off. 

"Maybe the end started at COVID. Maybe it’s because the last festival was a poorly attended artistic triumph," Walsh said in a statement. 

"But those aren’t the reasons I killed it." 

Walsh indicated the cost of expanding MONA in Hobart's northern suburbs played a part in his decision. 

"I know that we live for experience but, more and more, I seek permanence, a symbolic immortality," he said.

"At MONA, I’m building this big thing, hopefully it’ll be a good thing but it’s a costly thing. 

"I’m addicted to building and my addiction got out of hand. Some things have to go before I’m too far gone." 

Dark Mofo, MONA's popular winter art, food and music festival, in September announced it was "taking a year off" because of rising costs. 

It will run a greatly reduced program in 2024 but still hold its drawcard winter feast and nude solstice swim. 

More than 25 music festivals across the country have been cancelled since 2022, according to the Australian Festival Association. 

Groovin the Moo organisers ditched their event in February because of insufficient ticket sales.

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