La Mama’s not-for-profit organisation provides rent-free rehearsal and performance space in their heritage listed premises off Lygon St in Carlton, and has nurtured the talent of many well-known Australian artists. The former printing works building, built in 1883, is heritage listed not for its building fabric but for the central role it has played in the local community and the Australia theatre scene. Its cultural significance lies in its intrinsic community values; respect for first nation peoples, ownership model, support of artists, patronage by local community, and recognition of volunteer contribution. It is an intrinsic part of the Carlton community.
The theatre tragically burnt down on 19 May 2018 and the effect was devasting for the local Carlton community, breaking a continuous history of contemporary theatre that started in 1967. Cottee Parker is proud to be involved with the local arts community in the return of this cultural icon. We are working in association with Architect Meg White, a former member of Cottee Parker’s Melbourne studio. Meg has a long association with La Mama through her volunteer set design, staging and administration roles. Having now established her own practice she called upon Cottee Parker to assist her with the rebuilding project. Meg has lead the design and planning phases, working with the founders to establish the rebuild program and community fundraising base.
Cottee Parker have worked with Meg, the founders of the theatre, project manager, Melbourne City Council, and Heritage Victoria to document the restoration works and the documentation of new rehearsal and administrative spaces for town planning and tendering of the works. We have also attended community consultation with Meg to further explain the design concept, continuity of cultural significance, and the ways in which the values of the theatre have been upheld for cultural and community continuity. We are pleased to have offered these services to the theatre and Carlton community pro bono to assist with publicity for the theatre and fund raising. We look forward to continuing the association with La Mama through the contract administration phases, realising a reborn La Mama which retains the cultural significance of the former theatre and sympathetically expands the facilities to ensure the theatre’s viability well into the future.