Hobart cements its place on Australia’s cultural map, with Mofo and Dark Mofo festivals winning a major gong.

Just days after wrapping up its 2016 season, Hobart’s popular summer Mofo festival has earned a major prize at the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards, alongside younger sibling festival Dark Mofo. One of Australia’s most prestigious award ceremonies for the arts industry, the 32nd Sidney Myer Fund Award winners were announced last night at the Sydney Opera House.

The two festivals, which are run by David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), were named joint winners of the Group Award, with each receiving a $45,000 prize. Judges commented that the Hobart-based events “have captured the imagination of popular and critical acclaim”, which is unsurprising given the latest instalment of the festival of music and art drew crowds of over 40,000.

“To get a call from such a prestigious organisation like the Sidney Myer Fund was very special,” said Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael in an interview with The Mercury. “To be chosen from the huge amount of cultural activity that is happening all across Australia is humbling, and we’re thrilled.” It’s the latest award in a string of accolades for the booming festival, following Mona Foma’s win as Best Contemporary Music Festival at the 2012 Helpmann Awards.

MONA

“To be winning national awards out of Hobart is a huge credit to the teams behind the festival, and recognition of the effort they put in,” says Carmichael. “This is yet another indication that Hobart is now considered as a leading force on the Australian cultural landscape.”

Formerly known as Mona Foma, the festival this year moved home to Mona – David Walsh’s expensive labyrinth of underground excitements – and took up the new acronym, Mofo. “Mofo at Mona was very well received – by the public, and also by the musicians – they loved it, inside and outside the gallery spaces,” says curator and Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie. “It brought the whole museum site alive. Mofo is unique because not only is it the programming that you never see all together in one place at one time, but it is an environment that’s irreplicable. We had a lot of fun, and there is no rest for the proverbially wicked.”

Household-name headliners like the Flaming Lips and London rapper Kate Tempest owned the sun-drenched outdoor stages while inside the museum roving performers and experimental artists filled the stone halls with sound and light. Mofo not only draws visitors from around the world – 37% of ticketholders were interstate or international – they also bring artists such as Mexican jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez, who performed live his soundtrack to the Oscar Award-wining film Birdman.   

You can read Limelight writer Stephanie Eslake’s five-star review of Ensemble Offspring at Mofo 2016 here. ABC Classic FM will be broadcasting Kate Miller-Heidke’s sold-out performance from Hobart’s Odeon Theatre tonight at 10 pm. For more information, visit their website here.