Melbourne's La Mama Theatre To Close Throughout 2025 Due To Funding Cuts

13 March 2024 | 3:26 pm | Mary Varvaris

La Mama can’t continue its way of operation in 2025-2028 after a funding application was denied.

La Mama Theatre

La Mama Theatre (Source: Supplied)

Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre will close its doors throughout 2025 after announcing that it wouldn’t receive funding from Creative Australia for 2025-2028. During this time, the La Mama Committee of Management will “completely review its operations.”

La Mama is a not-for-profit theatre in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton, and since 1967, has hosted contemporary theatre works by creators of all backgrounds.

Some of the notable creatives and Australian theatre artists who have come out of La Mama include Cate Blanchett, Julia Zemiro, Graeme Blundell, David Williamson and Judith Lucy.

In 2018, La Mama caught fire. The theatre's roof collapsed, and the internal structure was gutted. The fire was reportedly caused by an electrical fault.

La Mama underwent restoration, with former artistic director Liz Jones promising the theatre and community would “rebuild”. Jones stepped down from her 50-year tenure in January 2023 but has remained on board as a mentor.

With everything La Mama has seen and experienced – the theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary last year – it’s tragic to know that it will be closed throughout 2025.

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In December, staff at La Mama discovered they had been unsuccessful in their funding application to Creative Australia.

They were also unsuccessful with the application in 2020, but thanks to Creative Victoria’s COVID-19 payments, JobKeeper, support from the Federal Government's RISE funding and generous private donations, La Mama was able to continue operating. Throughout 2023, the theatre was able to meet its aim, which is to “facilitate fearlessly independent theatre-making”.

But now, without the support of Creative Australia, La Mama can’t continue its way of operation in 2025-2028.

The La Mama Committee of Management said about its way of operation, “The La Mama model supports artists to create and present work. We offer artists venue, ticketing, front of house, marketing and technical support, together with a modest production budget and 80% of box office takings. La Mama takes 20%, making a small contribution to our operations. 

“Not securing four-year funding from Creative Australia was first met with disappointment and fear, but we are now choosing to grasp this moment as an opportunity to implement sustainable and necessary organisational change.

“We are hopeful, inspired and excited for our future.”

In 2025, La Mama’s Committee of Management aims to channel energy into “finding permanent solutions, not just temporary band-aid solutions, to best support our artists, our staff, our communities, our sector, our society – for our sustainable future.”

But it’s not all bleak. La Mama won’t be closed for all of next year, with the venue planning to keep both of its spaces – Drummond Street’s La Mama Courthouse and Faraday Street’s La Mama HQ – open for artist residencies.

More information is coming soon.