Urban Theatre Projects

About Utp

 
 

Utp has been at the forefront of art and social change since 1979.

Who we are

Utp is leading a not so quiet revolution of art that is socially responsive, inclusive and that reflects the diverse* nation we live in. We lead from the lands of the Darug people and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

Utp is a unique commissioning and producing organisation. We make long-term investments in collaborations with artists and/or communities from outside the dominant culture to give from to extraordinary ideas. We never do this alone, working with an exceptional set of partners to co-produce a year-round program of performance, dance, visual art, learning and community-led projects, unlike anything you have seen before.

Our curatorial model ensures projects are self-determined by artists and/or communities, challenging the dominant methodology of the lead Artistic Director to give rise to truly artist/community led projects.

We are committed to offering access-for-all to brilliant ideas, unusual experiences and critical thinking.

Art is not a luxury, it’s for everyone.

*We are an intersectional organisation and define diversity as including First Nations peoples, those who live with disability, the LGBTIQ+ community and people from the many culturally and linguistically diverse communities who make up this country. This diversity is reflected in our team, in the artists and communities we work with and our audiences.

Our History

Find out more about our 41 year history here.

Utp Core Staff

We like to think of ourself as a family, rather than a workforce. We like hearing new ideas and thoughts, so feel free to send us an email, we'd love to hear from you!

Dr Jessical Olivieri faces the camera against a black background wearing a pink shirt and red lipstick. She has short brown hair.

JESSICA OLIVIERI – CEO/Artistic Director

Dr Jessica Olivieri (she/her/they) works on Darug and lives on Bidjigal land.

Jessica grew up on her Italian Pop’s spaghetti bolognaise and conversations with IRA members on her maternal side. Her experience of growing up in an intercultural environment, as well as ten years of house-bound chronic illness and developing new ways to learn for her dyslexic brain, have informed her commitment to intersectional access to the arts.

Jessica’s family moved around the country, landing in Western Sydney as a teen, just in time for her to undertake a BA at Western Sydney University’s art school. After ten years as an artist and curator showing at major institutions like GOMA, Performance Space and MCA she undertook a PhD at Sydney uni. This PhD focused on the intersections of visual art, performance, dance and theatre within a community setting and how to do it better.

In 2021 Jessica is excited to begin a queer family with her partner and the baby’s two dads. You can reach Jessica Monday to Friday at jessica [at] utp.org.au.

BRONWYN PAPANTONIO – General Manager

Bronwyn Papantonio (She/Her) is the General Manager at Utp. She is a mum (with another on the way) and lives on Dharawal land in Western Sydney. Bron is the proud daughter of Burmese immigrants who migrated to Australia in the 70s and her culture and family values inform everything she does. You can catch Bron Monday to Friday at bronwyn [at] utp.org.au.

ADAM McGOWAN – Senior Producer/ Development Manager

Adam McGowan (He/Him) is an experienced producer, project manager and curator. As a queer kid growing up in Central Queensland, Sydney provided a welcome change when Adam arrived in the early 2000s. He and his partner have a cavoodle named Frankie who’s pretty darn cute and often visits Utp HQ. Adam lives and works on Gadigal and Darug land and you can reach him from Monday to Friday at adam [at] utp.org.au

EDDIE ABD – Creative Producer

Eddie Abd (She/Her) is an artist and creative producer who lives on Darug and Gundungurra land with her husband and two children. She is Lebanese and Australian and is constantly reminding herself to speak in Arabic with her kids. She loves Palestinian cross stitch embroidery and is learning how to sew her own Kaftans.

SIDNEY McMAHON – Marketing Manager

Sidney McMahon is the Marketing Manager part time at Utp. They identify as non-binary and are obsessed with baths. Outside of their work at Utp they are a professionally practicing artist and plant parent. They live and work on Gadigal and Wangal land and you can contact them from Monday - Wednesday via their email sidney [at] utp.org.au

VERONICA BARAC-GOMEZ – Administrator/ Marketing Coordinator

Veronica Barac-Gomez is a Latinx-Uruguayan-born immigrant to the United States and Australia. She is a queer artist and arts worker obsessed with her cat, Gumnut, who you’re very likely to meet if you’re on a zoom call with her. She currently lives and works on Gadigal land, and you can contact her Monday to Thursday via veronica [at] utp.org.au.

Utp Associate Staff

DANIEL BROWNING – Blak Box Curator

Daniel is a highly respected journalist and radio broadcaster from the Bundjalung and Kullilli peoples of far northern New South Wales and south-western Queensland. A trained painter, he is a visual arts graduate of the Queensland University of Technology. Since 2005 he has produced and presented Awaye!, the Indigenous art and culture program on ABC Radio National. He has produced sound artworks from three UNESCO World Heritage sites, exhibited during the 2015 Mildura Palimpsest Biennale and in extremis at Arts House, Melbourne in 2017. As a documentary maker he has received a bronze medal at the New York Festival for Cast Among Strangers, a study of the human zoo phenomenon. His documentary Fernando’s ghost about the Aboriginal rights activist Anthony Martin Fernando was highly commended in the John Newfong Media Prize in 2008 and received an honourable mention at imagineNATIVE, the international festival of Indigenous film and media arts in Canada. Currently, he produces Word Up, a podcast which shares Australia’s diverse Indigenous languages one word at a time.

FRANK MAINOO – Sex, Drugs & Pork Rolls Creative Producer

Frank is a theatre practitioner, a performance maker and a founding member of performance collective Team MESS performing in the company’s work between 2008–2013. Since completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts (University of Wollongong 2007), Frank has regularly worked and/or toured with companies such as Urban Theatre Projects, Version 1.0, Belvoir Street Theatre and ICE in on-stage performances, lighting designs, technical and production management roles. In 2010 Frank received a fellowship grant to attend Theaterformen (Braunschwieg, Germany) as emerging guest artist and was invited to participate in The Art of Play with Chiara Guidi from Societas Raffaello Sanzio at Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Utp Board

Amanda Brisot

Amanda joined the board of Urban Theatre Projects in 2019, drawn to the company’s passion for telling the important and unique stories of Western Sydney in such an authentic and innovative way. Having grown up in the region Amanda shares a deep appreciation for the wonderfully diverse fabric of the local community.  In her current role as General Manager of Western Sydney Business Connection and as a passionate advocate for Western Sydney, Amanda has led a number of successful advocacy campaigns and programs within the region that aim to drive economic growth and positive social outcomes for the community.   Amanda and has more than three decades of experience in marketing, commercial partnerships and stakeholder engagement across government, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Michelle Hanna

Michelle is a communications and production specialist working across arts, media and government. Currently working in Internal Communications for the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Michelle also chairs the Sydney Outreach Committee for Human Rights Watch in Australia. Previously, she worked in social impact documentary for a film about Huntington’s Disease as well as with Good Pitch2 Australia at the Sydney Opera House. Michelle was an in-house producer for the subscription TV arts channels and a casual arts reporter for SBS World News, and an arts publicist prior to that. Michelle commenced her career working with the team that delivered the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Arts Festivals.

Dr Robert Lang (Chair)

Dr Robert Lang has a career history of thirty-five years in the public service, gained within a combination of state & local government, change management, community engagement, strategic urban planning, urban development, transport infrastructure, place management, arts, tourism and energy businesses. He was the CEO of three major organisations, including Parramatta City Council, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Pacific Power. He has significant experience as a Board Director, serving on 18 Boards over the past 22 years, including not-for-profits,private companies and government statutory authorities.

Craig McMaster

Craig McMaster has an extensive senior management and leadership background in entertainment and the arts, with over 30 years industry experience in theatre, cinema, events and venue management, retail/hospitality and digital marketing and technology.Craig currently holds the role of Executive Director of Sydney Coliseum Theatre, West HQ - the spectacular new 2000 seat proscenium arch, multi-mode theatre which opened in Western Sydney in late 2019. Prior to joining West HQ to lead the pre-opening and opening of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre, Craig held the role of Chief Marketing and Information Officer (CMIO) for Australia’s leading Stadium Operator, VenuesLive Management Services. VenuesLive is the exclusive operator of Sydney’s ANZ and Bankwest Stadiums and the record-breaking $1.6Bn Optus Stadium in Perth.

Previously, Craig was CEO of the Showbiz Group, a leading premium ticketing, travel and VIP packaging partner to major venues, producers and promoters in Australasia. He also held senior roles with Australia’s leading primary ticketing provider, Ticketek Pty Ltd. As COO and then CEO, Craig lead Ticketek through an aggressive growth phase and was responsible for securing and delivering the ticketing contract for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Early in his career, Craig held senior executive management positions with leading entertainment and hospitality organisations including Village Nine Leisure, Hoyts Corporation, Pepsico International and McDonald’s Corporation.

Craig is an active member of the Venue Management Association (VMA) and has served as a member of the Executive Council of Live Performance Australia (LPA).

Dr Jessica Olivieri

As above.

Theo Psychogios

Theo is a Partner with Deloitte’s Financial Advisory practice and focuses on providing services to the State, Local and Federal governments, government agencies and private sector organisations they interact with. Theo has been a lead advocate for the economic and social development of Western Sydney, starting with the ground breaking Shaping Future Cities - Designing Western Sydney report which provided an economic blueprint for the region sustainable and equitable growth. His work has influenced Government and Private sector investment in the job generators, amenity and public infrastructure and services that will underpin Western Sydney’s growth for the years to come. Theo’s professional and personal life has been heavily influenced by his Greek heritage. The lessons and experiences from his parents and extended family have forged his unwavering belief in the value of community, culture, diversity, commitment, exchange and creative expression. Celebrating the unique and shared stories of all Australian cultures, and supporting truth telling for our first nation people and artists, is something that Theo is especially passionate about.

Catherine Sullivan

Catherine is a lawyer with extensive law firm and in-house corporate legal experience and is currently Senior Manager & Senior Legal Counsel at ASX Limited specialising in financial markets, corporate, governance and regulatory law. She is a director of Urban Theatre Projects and National Young Writers Festival and former Chair of Critical Stages and director of Brand X.

Nina Trofimova CPA CA

Nina is an accomplished CFO / Head of Finance, with over 15 years’ experience in the NFP sector. She has a deep understanding of industry-specific issues, including legislation, funding and reforms. She specialises in driving business process efficiencies, leading financial strategy, and implementing new systems to meet business objectives.

CPA and CA qualified, Nina is a for-purpose person, deeply committed to making a difference. She works as Senior Finance Associate, simply speaking 'outsourced CFO', at financial consulting company Purpose Accounting. Prior to joining Purpose, Nina managed Finance Functions for large non-profit organisations within the arts, culture and environmental sectors, including Biennale of Sydney.Nina currently holds the position of Chair to CPA Australia’s Not For Profit Committee, acting in an advisory capacity to the CPA NSW Divisional Council.

Nina brings to the Board her professional qualities as well as a passion and love for the art sector.

Shannon Williams (Brothablack)

Shannon Narrun Williams, known as Brothablack, is a Sydney-based Indigenous Hip Hop performer. Brothablack was a founding member of Deadly Award-winning group South West Syndicate. He has since gone solo and has worked as an MC for The National Indigenous 3on3 Basketball and Hip Hop Challenge, performed at the Big Day Out, and released a solo album More Than A Feeling, an album which is trying to give "non-Indigenous people a good look into an Indigenous males life". In 2007 he teamed up with Hilltop Hoods to create a song for a campaign by reconcile.org.au highlighting indigenous mortality rates.

He has received extensive airplay on Triple J including performing a set for Live at the Wireless, broadcast on 9 July 2007. From series 1 to 3, he co-host Move it Mob Style with Naomi Wenitong.

Mouna Zaylah

Mouna Zaylah is Arab Australian born and raised in Western Sydney. She is an arts and cultural development worker with over 25 years experience working in the community arts and cultural development sector and local government. She is currently the Business and Engagement Manager at Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown City Council overseeing the operations, education and public programs, community and audience engagement, grants and funding. She was Co-Director of the Arab Film Festival 2007-2017. From 2015 to 2020 she was a member of the NSW Film and Television Industry Advisory Committee (Screen NSW). In 2019 she joined the Create NSW Multi-Artform Board. Between 1999 and 2016 she worked for Information and Cultural Exchange managing artistic and cultural programs, producing resources for artists and communities, coordinating cultural events, performance and screen-based projects with artists, community groups and organisations. She works across sectors including community, arts, screen, technology and business. Mouna has also worked for Urban Theatre Projects in administration and as a project officer (1992-1997). She has also worked for Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in administration, curatorial and project coordinator roles (1997-1999) and a range of other community and youth based organizations as a freelance arts administrator, project coordinator and cultural consultant.

Tian Zhang

Tian Zhang is an independent curator and facilitator working at the intersections of art and cultural practice. Her work often involves a recalibration of rituals and cultural phenomena within our understandings of contemporary art and life. She is a founding co-director of Pari, a new artist-run space for Parramatta and was formerly Chair and co-director of Firstdraft (2018-19). She is currently working on a series of curatorial projects for Blacktown Arts and has previously held positions at Parramatta Artists’ Studios and Urban Theatre Projects. Tian is an alumnus of the Australia Council for the Arts’ Future Leaders Program (2018) and British Council and Diversity Arts Australia’s INTERSECT Program (2019) for changemakers.