In 2007, La Mama was notified that the building we’d been renting for the past 42 years was being put on sale, giving our beloved theatre a small amount of time to raise a phenomenal amount of money. There was a scramble to begin fundraising immediately but Liz Jones was one of the few with high hopes for obtaining the money.

“When I first saw the amount of the money, I had to think that it was possible, otherwise my nerve would have failed. I was terribly nervous, and certainly some of my committee of management were very apprehensive… but I just thought that we have to make the amount, we have to get it.”

The relationship between La Mama and the Del Monaco family had always been a friendly one, and Rose Del Monaco gave La Mama her last gift by allowing us first preference to buy.

“For 42 years we had rented, we had a very good, harmonious arrangement with the landlord, Michael Del Monaco” Says Jones “You might notice that the little road right next to La Mama is called Del Monaco lane, they owned the shop on the corner. One day Betty Burstall saw Michael Del Monaco hammering in a sign saying ‘To Let, $14 a week, for this property.’ She was looking for a little theatre, so she asked if she could have a look. He showed her in, and remarkably she said I’ll take it.” Old La Mama

Number 205-207 Faraday was built in 1883 and first owned by a Carlton printer. Since then it has been many things including a workshop, an electrical engineering business and a factory that produced both boots and silk underwear.

“When Michel died he said to his wife Rose, make sure you look after La Mama, and the people there. Rose certainly did, the rent was never too much for us to pay, and then when Rose died, she obviously had put something in her will to her sons that she wanted to give us an opportunity to buy the property. So we were given first option and we made an offer, and it was accepted. So in lots of ways, the very good relationship we’d had with the landlord over that 42 years was wonderful because it ended up with us getting first option on the building”

The Save La Mama Campaign began shortly after the building had been put up for sale, so that we could raise the amount of 1,700,000 Dollars.

Liz commented “I’d always wanted to buy La Mama, and I’d attempted to buy it on several occasions with government support, but, the government support was never big enough. We had been saving a bit of money so that when they offered us to the opportunity to buy La Mama, we had a trust set up already, and had a bit of money in it. So we quickly (on television and newspapers) launched a campaign asking people to donate, and people even came off the street donating, $50 or $20. Then we organized a little ringing up campaign and the people in the office rang up and asked everyone they knew if they could give us a thousand dollars. About 200 people gave it to us, and that meant that we could put in the deposit, within 4 days we had the deposit 17,000. And then all we had to do was to raise the rest of the money!”

Some of the major funders in their times of need were the philanthropists, Liz explained that the Pratt foundation was the first to donate money; in fact they donated a fantastic $350,000. This then triggered the other foundations and soon the money was flooding in. Although this had raised the figure, all of the little contributions were making everything count.

“I remember getting asked to do a shift and donating our pay to the campaign”, says La Mama Company Manager/Creative Producer Caitlin Dullard, “the amount was $50 or something at the time, and I remember feeling very excited by the possibility, to contribute to something I felt so passionate about. I think at that point and during those few months, I donated all my front of house shifts, which ended up being a few hundred dollars that in the scheme of things was a small amount, but lots of people having the chance to give small amounts, that was the strength of the campaign.” People going to La Mama

There was so many people donating little bits of money and having the power of doing something that mattered felt really good, so a bunch of us front of house staff got the buckets for the save La Mama campaign and the Arts Centre allowed us, I think other venues did too, but I can remember going to the Arts Centre at the end of the shows putting the buckets out and just feeling overjoyed by the amount of people that came out and gave money, for some people it was just a few coins other people were putting 50 dollar notes in ……I just felt so encouraged and so part of the community.”

A number of philanthropists, private donors and state and federal government made more significant contributions and at the eleventh hour, the campaign raised its target and La Mama was able to buy the building outright. The community had spoken. La Mama was here to stay.

Here is a list of those that contributed:

PATRON SAINT $350,000+
Jeanne Pratt AC, Pratt Family Foundation
GUARDIAN ANGELS $250,000+
Sidney Myer Fund
The Max Chapman Bequest
LUMINARIES $150,000+
Melbourne City Council
State Government of Victoria
Australian Government
Ian Potter Foundation
GUIDING LIGHTS $50,000+
Grollo Ruzzene Foundation
Robert Salzer Foundation
Besen Family Foundation
GOOD SHEPHEARDS $20,000+
Malcolm Robertson Foundation
Anne & Milan Kantor
Readings Foundation
Cate Blanchett & Andrew Upton
KINDRED SPIRITS $10,000+
Michael & Silvia Kantor
The University of Melbourne
Allan Myers AO & Maria Myers AO
Ros Horin & The Sky Foundation
Lorraine Pearce
The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Sarah and Zoe Mathers
SOUL MATES $5,000 +
The Late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch ACDBE
Lyn Williams AM
Susan Ball
The McMullin Family
Melbourne Community Foundation
Bruce & Jenny Spence
David & Kristin Williamson
Michael Agar & Penelope Bartlau
W Marshall & Associates
Peter Cox
WHITE KNIGHTS $1,500 +
Dina Mann
Monica Maughan and Rowland Ball Mark and Wendy Rubbo
Helen Lee Jane Murphy & Peta Murray
Keith Brockett Rohan Souter and Vanessa Case
Jamie Croft Jennifer Barry
Papa Gino’s Restaurant
Di Mattina’s Restaurant
Jill O’Callaghan
Anomynus
ANZ Trustees
GALAXY OF STARS $1000+
Lyn Allison
Sharin Anderson
Brunnetti’s Café
Rick Amor
Stephen Armstrong
Ethos Australia
Edwin & Martine Batt
Alicia & Zach Benn Lawler
Ian & Greta Bird
Susie & Brian Blowers
Humphrey Bower & Jess Ipkendanz
Julia Britton
Arthur & Corinne Cantrill
Ian & Julie Cattlin
Robert Chuter & Chris Pender
Robyn Clancy
Jenny Craig
Rhonda Day
Melbourne Workers Theatre
Tony & Sandra Del Monaco
Julie Drysdale
Liz Drysdale
Jean Dunn
Carlton Church of All Nations
Jennifer Feeney
Alan Finney
Moira Finucane & Jackie Smith
Deborra-Lee Furness & Hugh Jackman
Prue Gill & Tony Knight
Jill Smith & Will Gluth
Ben Grant
Joan Grant
Peta Hanrahan
Kevin Harrington
Eris J Harrison
Maureen & Graham Hartley
Phoebe Hartley & Chris Bieg
Bill Hawtin & Tess Hill
Gisela & Wolf Heidecker
Catherine Hill & Abe Pogos
Rosie Hinde & John Romeril
Sue Hunt
MDM Copy Centre
Mary Lou Jelbart
Rosemary Johns
Lester & Ingrid Jones
Liam & Summer Jones
Liz Jones
Lloyd Jones
Irene Kearsey
John and Simon King
Josephine Lange & James Pratt
Janice Langman
Karen Lawrence The Malthouse Theatre
Alan Lawson and Joanne Tomkins
David Levin QC
Babka Bakery
Jessica Lightfoot & The Late Esme Melville
Paul Madden
Sarah & Sylvia Mainwaring
Lauren Marotte
Susan McCarthy
Tony Taylor
Meme MacDonald
Douglas McManus
Mark & Joanne McNamara
Eloise Mignon
Ann Miller
Joy Murphy
John O’May
Connie Paglionetti & David Roberts
Auspicious Arts
Hoa Pham
David Potts
Alison Richards
Dorothy Richards
Judy Rutherford
Caitlin Dullard
Alex & Merron Selenitsch
The Late Ellen Stewart La Mamma NYC
Elliot & Alex Summers
Ann Tonks
Raymond Triggs
Victoria Triggs
Frank Van Straten OAM
Fiona Wiseman
Allan & Jan Willingham The Bendigo Bank Community Fund
La Mama Front of House Staff 2008
  La Mama’s Cherubs below $1000 More than 500 of our nearest & dearest   Noblemen Geoffrey Rush Richard Frankland   Blood Sweat & Tears Mike Bishop, Greg Carroll & Glenn Elston Performers & Crew, Big Benefit Bash Holding Redlich Solicitors Melbourne Theatre Company Marriner Theatres Victorian Arts Centre Sydney Theatre Company Belvoir Street Theatre Circus Oz Body Voice Centre Dancehouse Emily Harms Louise Connor & Sarah Rogan, MEAA ‘Bucket Rattlers’ one & all