Walsh looks beyond Hobart for Mofo success

Visual Arts Writer

MONA's founder has announced his intentions to move his summer festival to Launceston and plans for a new hotel.
Walsh looks beyond Hobart for Mofo success

Spreading the Walsh footprint to Launceston, the millionaire asks government to fund the move of MOFO; image supplied

Founder of Hobart’s MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) David Walsh announced to the Tasmanian tourism industry last week that he plans to relocate Mona Foma – Mona’s summer festival – to Launceston.

Walsh has made a proposal to the State Government, through Events Tasmania, telling media ‘we can't rest on our laurels for ever.’ 

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Brian Ritchie, Mona Foma's curator continued: ‘The festival’s original ten-year plan – to change the culture in Hobart – has come to fruition ahead of schedule.

‘We’d like to embark upon a new creative journey – to relocate to Launceston in search of new challenges, new collaborations, fresh partnerships and novel creative models,’ he said.

Mark Wilsdon, Co-CEO Mona added: ‘We recognise the value in a state-wide approach to tourism and events, and the importance of regional dispersal to sustainable economic growth.’

In 2016, Mona weathered criticism over moving Mona Foma from central Hobart to the Mona site at Berriedale.

View of the hotel (part of the proposed HOMO development) from the Derwent River, Courtesy of Fender Katsalidis Architects; supplied Mona

HOMO moves from talk to plans

The plan to bolster Tasmanian tourism is not exclusive to broadening the spread of the Mona footprint.

Walsh also unveiled designs for HOMO last week – his HOtel at MOna – an ambitious project that will take approximately three years to build.

Walsh has been talking up the idea of luxury accommodation and a casino at the site for some years.

Read: David Walsh reveals “Stuff we are planning to do”

An artist's impression of the design by Fender Katsalidis Architects shows the hotel thrusting high above the Derwent River. It is expected to cost over $300 million.

Walsh told media this week: ‘This time, some may think it's gotten a little out of hand – the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support, the plans have turned out pretty well.’

Atrium, part of the proposed Homo development; Courtesy of Fender Katsalidis Architects; supplied Mona

The new 5-star hotel will feature 172 rooms and will be located at Berriedale, adjacent to Walsh’s winery and popular museum, which opened in 2011. 

It will be built from the top down on a suspension bridge model. Walsh explained that the top seven floors are suspended, and the bottom three built from below. ‘It’s the best idea anyone ever had.’

It will include a spa treatment centre, public library, outside stage, restaurant and bar, auditorium, conference centre, and function and retail spaces.

He added that it will create 300 new full time construction jobs.

The proposed HOMO development plan is yet to be submitted to Glenorchy City Council.

‘We expect HOMO to be attractive to large segments of the national and international business and conference markets that previously haven’t turned to Tasmania due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure. New facilities, like the auditorium and theatre, will also allow us to further activate the site at night, and continue to diversify the appeal of Mona to Tasmanians too,’ Wilsdon concluded.

Currently, 74% (260,000) of Mona’s annual visitors travel from interstate. 

When open, HOMO will deliver an additional 120 full time jobs on an ongoing basis. It is slated to open in 2020.

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