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…

Image description: Richard Watts, Caitlin Dullard & Liz Jones excited expression pointing in the distance

Image by Rick Evertsz

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

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley welcomed the alliance’s contribution. 

La Mama is at the heart of Victoria and Australia’s cultural and creative life. The Andrews Labor Government is proud to have contributed $1 million to jumpstart this important project which will not only rebuild La Mama but make it even stronger and more accessible for the next generation… I’m delighted that this has inspired some of our country’s leading philanthropists to band together and contribute an additional $1 million, putting La Mama within reach of its fundraising target. I acknowledge their generosity and that of every member of the community who has dug deep to contribute to La Mama’s future.”

Led by Vedran Drakulic OAM CEO of Gandel Philanthropy and Carrillo Gantner AC, Chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund, each of the five Trusts/Foundations/Donors 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.”


The cost of rebuilding La Mama is anticipated to be $3,095,788

To date, we have received:

$756,195 from QBE fire insurance

$1 million from the Victorian State Government

$1 million from philanthropic alliance: Sidney Myer Fund, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Gandel Philanthropy and an anonymous donation. 

$50,000 from Heritage Victoria

$30,000 from City of Melbourne

$113,695 from Community Donations

We need the support of our community to raise the remaining: $145,898 

We’re 95% of the way there but still need that last 5%
Now is the moment to join us in forging our future!

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. ”


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.

Gandel Philanthropy 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 Philanthropy, 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, The John T Reid Charitable Trusts, created by the late Sir John Reid is a family foundation. For over sixty years, three generations of family members have proudly continued his generous legacy.  The trusts continue his philanthropy by supporting the most disadvantaged and strengthening communities in the areas of aged and palliative care, arts and cultural heritage, community and social welfare, education and youth support, environment and health support.

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 Foundation has made this contribution via the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust.

Donations can be made at 

For more information or to request an interview please contact: Terri King at Pitch Projects on or 0488 036 740