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MONA founder David Walsh loves a punt. So he could not resist the challenge of creating a successful festival during Hobart's sleepy winter.

With the help of State Government backing of $3 million over three years, Mr Walsh plans to turn Dark MOFO into a major event during Tasmania's quiet winter tourism season.

He revealed his motivation for Dark MOFO stemmed from his father who once bet that a Hobart winter would beat any tourist business.

"He was a bit of a punter but I've been known to have a bet myself and I'm going to take his wager," Mr Walsh said.

As revealed in the Mercury yesterday, Dark MOFO will form the cornerstone of a three-month calendar of arts and cultural activities starting next winter.

A sea of smiling suits greeted the official announcement of the Government's three-year sponsorship deal of Dark MOFO yesterday.

Premier Lara Giddings said the Government investment would boost hospitality jobs and kickstart the business community over the quiet winter period.

"David Walsh and MONA know how to throw a party and draw a crowd and this event will make Tasmania the place to be next winter," she said.

Dark MOFO next June followed by the Festival of Voices in July and, with high hopes of a third event called Festival of Ideas in August, will make a three-month long event.

The winter festival is expected to include a fire and light concert at Salamanca, a night market at Princes Wharf and an, as yet unnamed, headline musical artist.

Dark MOFO will centre on a major winter exhibition at Mr Walsh's Museum of Old and New Art.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief Luke Martin said Dark MOFO was the best opportunity the industry has had to crack the perennial nut of industry seasonality


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