Philanthropist Jeanne Pratt is a woman of many parts. The former journalist is a hands-on lady who gives her all to the many causes she sponsors.
Whether it is as chief of the theatrical organisation The Production Company, vice-president of AFL club Carlton, or supporting the charity The Smith Family, Jeanne has always been a boots-and-all person for the causes she supports.
Born in Poland to Jewish parents, Jeanne’s family managed to escape to Australia before the Nazi persecution of Jews.
‘From an early age, I wanted to study law, which I did at Sydney University and then I went on to work in journalism and television,’ Jeanne told Warcry.
The 22-year-old journalist from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph met a young actor with an interest in cardboard boxes—Richard Pratt, who created Visy Industries. But his humble beginnings didn’t thrill Jeanne’s mother, and when Jeanne rang home to say she was engaged, three days after meeting the man she called the next Rock Hudson, her mother burst into tears.
The couple built a business empire, became involved in philanthropy and used their wealth to buy the mansion Raheen, providing it for fundraising events at no cost to the organisers.
So what drives Pratt’s philanthropy?
‘I feel so blessed in life, I have always wanted to make a difference and help,’ she told Warcry.
In 1998 Jeanne established The Production Company, a not-for-profit theatrical company which performs Broadway musicals for short Melbourne seasons, providing employment and stimulating the music theatre industry. Jeanne delights in saying that while TPC is a not-for-profit company, she prefers it to be a not-for-loss one too!
Music theatre is high on the list of Jeanne Pratt’s interests.
Jeanne says that creating jobs, especially for youth, is the most important thing we can do for our community, and at TPC, many young performers get their start, and learn from the older stars who love to work with the company.
The Pratt Foundation has donated more than $200 million to recipients including the Smith Family, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, and the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank. Jeanne maintains that one ought to give, observing that Jews are meant to give away 10% of what they earn.
Jeanne feels that The Production Company has filled a vacuum in the musical life of Melbourne, ‘It plays a major role in providing employment for artists and provides quality music theatre entertainment at affordable prices. These are two most satisfying aspects…and, of course, I love musical theatre!’ she told Warcry.
Jeanne Pratt lives the wisdom we find in the Bible.
‘Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself’ (Proverbs chapter 11 verse 25).