Liz Jones has been announced as the recipient of the 2019 Sue Nattrass Award. The Artistic Director of Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre will be presented with the honour from Live Performance Australia, for exceptional service to the live performance industry, at this year’s Helpmann Awards ceremony at Arts Centre Melbourne in July.

Liz Jones, La Mama TheatreLiz Jones AO. Photo: supplied

“I am delighted to receive this award, particularly as it is the Sue Nattrass Award,” Jones said. “Sue’s personal integrity and quiet determination in achieving her ideals has long been an inspiration to my own life in theatre.”

Jones began working at La Mama Theatre in 1973 as both an artist and a staff member, and by the end of 1976 was Artistic Director/Administrator, a position she holds to this day. She is recognised as a trailblazer in addressing gender imbalance in writing and directing and as a supporter of multilingual and Indigenous theatre.

She was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Facilitator’s Prize in 2000, Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 and the Australia Council Award for Theatre in 2018. She holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the Australian National University and her name is on the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll. She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2012, her citation referring to her work with playwrights and the Indigenous theatre community.

Jones is currently shepherding La Mama Theatre through the process of rebuilding the heritage-listed theatre which was gutted by fire in 2018. The theatre is in the process of raising funds. The final cost of rebuilding will be about $3 million, Jones told The Australian, with $800,000 from insurance, a $1 million contribution from the state government, announced by Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, and private donations amounting to $2 million so far.

“LPA is delighted that Liz Jones AO is the recipient of the 2019 Sue Nattrass Award,” LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson said. “Her unwavering commitment and support of performers and creatives over the past forty years has made La Mama an innovative theatrical force that is woven into the rich cultural fabric of Melbourne.”