Little theatre inspires big donation from unique philanthropic alliance – Iconic La Mama bringing community, government and philanthropy together to rebuild

$1 million dollar philanthropic alliance matches government grant, making La Mama Rebuild almost a reality…

Just over a year after the devastating fire, La Mama Theatre today announced the million dollar contribution by State Government has been matched by a philanthropy collaboration including, Sidney Myer Fund, John T Reid Charitable Trust, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust, Gandel Philanthropy and an anonymous donation.

Minister for the arts, the Hon. Martin Foley, MP, said,

La Mama has contributed so much to our cultural life, to our dedicated artists, and to creative risk-taking and ideas since the 1960s. La Mama’s role in our creative ecosystem is as important as ever. That’s why the Andrews Labor Government has contributed $1 million to help rebuild the theatre and set La Mama up for the next 50 years and beyond. I encourage you to be part of this important project which will ensure La Mama stands strong for future generations of artists and audiences.”

Led by Vedran Drakulic OAM CEO of Gandel Philanthropy and Carrillo Gantner AC, Chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund and, each of the five Trusts/Foundations have generously given equal gifts resulting in a significant $1 million total contribution. The philanthropy collaboration is pleased to support the rebuild of this important community infrastructure, including achieving best practice disability access standards.

Vedran Drakulic said on behalf of the philanthropic alliance,

This was a unique opportunity for us as a sector to come together to support a vital place we all believe in. We are proud to be working alongside government and La Mama’s diverse community of supporters to champion the future of this iconic theatre and hub for so many artists”

“La Mama is a true symbol of Melbourne and its art scene. It is a much needed and unique institution that is an essential and vibrant part of the theatre ecology of the Australian theatre scene, and together we are proud to ensure it rebuilds and continues strongly into the future.”

Alongside the insurance settlement, contributions by Heritage Victoria and City of Melbourne and now over $100,000 already raised by the community, this combined philanthropic donation means La Mama has secured approx. 95{496dc0849afb478e77d3c850d8fdf37ee4c69c9d52dd08798bfe94ac30c5f40e} of the total needed for the rebuild.

Long-standing Artistic Director and CEO, Liz Jones and Chair of La Mama, Richard Watts, said of this significant boost to their fundraising drive,

This philanthropic alliance is a beautiful demonstration of the strength and impact of community and collective action. We are all stronger when we work together for a common cause. We wish to express our heartfelt thanks.”

By matching the Andrews Government’s support, these philanthropists and their trusts and foundations have demonstrated that they believe La Mama matters.

We’re now so close to being able to rebuild. We just need that last little bit. ”

With only 5{496dc0849afb478e77d3c850d8fdf37ee4c69c9d52dd08798bfe94ac30c5f40e} still needed to reach their target and start building, La Mama has renewed the call to theatre lovers and the community to donate and help them get across the line before June 30 – Donations can be made at

La Mama Theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge, contemporary theatre since 1967. An early stomping ground for many of Australia’s most acclaimed actors and performers including Cate Blanchett, David Williamson, Julia Zemiro and Judith Lucy, La Mama is a way in for those starting out, a creative home for established artists and makers, and an open door for theatre makers at all levels from all walks of life. Despite the setback of the fire, La Mama is still very much alive and kicking with its 2019 winter program [link] currently underway. See images from current season and La Mama archives here [link].

Requiring a complete rebuild, plans for the new La Mama home are well underway with the intention to restore the original building but also make important improvements; in particular ensuring La Mama is an accessible space at all levels. The Rebuild plans include a modest inclusive new building which will allow La Mama to revitalise its role as a hub for independent artists – support that is crucial in this time of increased pressure.


La Mama Theatre is a crucial part of Melbourne’s cultural life and makes a significant contribution to the creative arts in Australia. Valued by artists and audiences alike, La Mama is treasured for its continued advocacy of those seeking to explore beyond mainstream theatre.
As a not-for-profit association, La Mama is producing work by theatre makers of all backgrounds and encouraging works that deconstruct and critique form, content and social issues.
Described by its founder Betty Burstall as “essentially a playwright’s theatre, a place where new ideas, new ways of expression can be tried out, a place where you can hear what people are thinking and feeling”, La Mama is the home of alternative and experimental local theatre


Gandel Foundation is one of Australia’s largest independent private family philanthropic funds. It has been the vehicle for charitable giving by the extended Gandel family since its formation as the Gandel Charitable Foundation back in 1978.
John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC are actively engaged in their philanthropic initiatives and they are universally recognised for their generosity, commitment and passion in supporting both Jewish and general causes. Through Gandel Foundation, over the years they invested over $100 million dollars in the community, supporting various charitable causes in Australia and overseas.

The John T Reid Charitable Trusts, created by the late Sir John Reid (1903 – 1984), is a family foundation. For over sixty years, three generations of family members have proudly continued his generous legacy. Sir John’s philanthropy had as its basis that support from his Charitable Trusts allowed good people to get on with their own good work for the benefit of the community. The Trust Deed, typical of the founder, is straightforward and open – charities and institutions in the fields of Social Welfare, Community Health, The Arts and Education could all be supported.

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation connects people, ideas and funding to create positive social change and address Melbourne’s future needs, now. Since its establishment in 1923, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has become one of Australia’s leading philanthropic organisations by proactively supporting Melbourne and its community.

The Sidney Myer Fund continues the legacy of Sidney Myer, a generous philanthropist who in his lifetime, left a portion of his estate upon his death in 1934 to be invested for the benefit of the community in which he made his fortune. The Myer family has, over four succeeding generations given generously in many ways to make significant and lasting changes in our society.