The “destination museum” that put Hobart firmly on the global art map presents the 8th edition of its cheerfully nonconformist arts festival. For the first time, a majority of events will be hosted within the museum grounds, bringing Foma home to Mona.

Mo-who? Before we delve into the festival programme, a brief glossary of acronyms: The Festival Of Music and Art (Foma) is organised by the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania. Just to confuse matters more, Mona Foma is also referred to as – acronym of acronyms – Mofo. Its fringe offshoot is named Faux Mo and its winter festival counterpart Dark Mofo.

Who is behind Mofo? The brainchild of the museum’s founder David Walsh, its programme is curated by Brian Ritchie. The Hobart-born professional-gambler-turned-art-collector and the Violent-Femmes-bassist-turned-Hobart-resident are an unlikely pair, but their creative partnership has been remarkably fruitful. Just as the landmark museum housing Walsh’s idiosyncratic collection swiftly established itself as the foremost tourist attraction in Tasmania, the festival is being touted as the most exciting event the island state has to offer.

What’s so special about Mofo? Mofo’s unique appeal lies less in blockbuster bands (although the explosion of on-stage joy that is The Flaming Lips headlining the main stage is sure to be a major draw), nor even in the discovery of under-the radar gems, but in the haphazard eclecticism of a programme that simply refuses to be constrained by genre, location or commercial appeal. The schedule lists a dizzying array of concerts, performances, creative collaborations and experimental installations – oh, and debauchery. David Walsh loves debauchery, and so do the 40,000 visitors expected to descend on Hobart for Mofo 2016. Which is why you need a plan if you want to see even a small part of all that’s on offer.

Where to begin? This year, Foma is for the first time actually being hosted at Mona. The Museum of Old and New Art wasn’t designed with this type of event in mind, so it’s an experiment of sorts, which may be reason enough to get within the belly of the beast. The three-day or one-day Mona pass gives guests access to the entire underground museum (including the current Gilbert & George retrospective) and all events taking place on the grounds over the central festival weekend.

What’s the hottest ticket? Although at least one trip to the Mona festival site is a must, some of the most highly anticipated events are taking place in venues across Hobart – with tickets sold separately. A one-off collaboration of Australian songstress extraordinaire Kate Miller-Heidke with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra already sold out in November, less than a month after the lineup was announced… and other events are sure to sell out closer to the dates, so snap up tickets while you can.

What’s on for free? Luckily, even arts enthusiasts on a budget and those who missed out on tickets can enjoy a bevy of free events. These range from concerts at the Brooke Street Pier, curated projects in art centres around town and a collaborative multi-disciplinary performance as far afield as Bruny Island (about an hour south of Hobart).

[Photo at left: Edward Mulvihill]

Where to stay and how to get around? Hobart is small and it will be packed, so book early and try to set up camp near Franklin Wharf, where most of the off-site events are within walking distance and you can catch the ferry to Mona. You will need a car to get to the more remote venues, but you can manage without one if you stick to the city and the museum.


Article by Fiona Brutscher

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