Shorter, ‘more intense’ Dark Mofo confirmed for 2021
DARK Mofo will be free to return to its gloriously dark and subversive best this year as its organisers break from the sponsorship deals they say were "slowly killing" the festival.
After a year of uncertainty, Mona owner David Walsh confirmed a shorter, "more intense" festival would go ahead, from June 16 to 22.
"Dark's back, which, in the immortal words of Mark Spitz, who was also making a comeback, 'could be good, could be great, could be terrible'," Mr Walsh, the festival's chief financier, said.
"Mark didn't mention that there is another possibility - it could be cancelled. But it wouldn't be worth doing if there was no risk. There's lots of risk, so it must really be worth doing."
While not giving away any details, Dark Mofo's creative director Leigh Carmichael said the COVID experience, which led to last year's event being cancelled, was impacting heavily on the artistic program.
"Our patrons will be pleased to know they can expect a typically grim and gloomy affair in June," he said.
"Like everyone else, we've been soul searching for almost a year, trying to understand our place in a changed world. Last year we lost our sense of purpose overnight."
The festival, which is co-funded by the Tasmanian government and received a $1 million COVID boost from the federal government, has cut ties with all sponsors including beer brands, car companies and fashion labels.
The sponsorship deals were worth about $500,000 per festival, but were slowly killing it, Mr Carmichael said.
"We felt they were having a detrimental effect on the festival," he said.
"While we've appreciated the support from many high profile brands, we want to be able to pursue our own cultural agenda free from restraint and with a renewed commitment to the art."
The decision may seem gutsy, given Dark Mofo has also lost the financial backing of the Hobart City Council, but it could help the annual event retain an edge on competitor winter festivals now popping up interstate.
As many interstate journalists have observed, Dark Mofo's brand of confronting, immersive and often fiery revelry would never be allowed in other Australian cities.
This year marks the final year of a five-year funding agreement with the State Government and Mr Carmichael said Dark Mofo's future was "not clear or guaranteed".
"The Hobart City Council have withdrawn financial support and this will impact the scope and scale of the Winter Feast, which will be reduced to 5 nights," he said.
"While our future is a little uncertain, we are optimistic that there is enough gunpowder in the barrel to propel us into 2022."
The full Dark Mofo program will be announced in April.
Originally published as Shorter, 'more intense' Dark Mofo confirmed for 2021