Utp has been at the forefront of art and social change since 1979. Recognised internationally, the Company has a 43-year history of creating artistically distinctive work and being at the forefront of contemporary arts practice.
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 form 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.
Find out more about our 43 year history here.
Read our annual and artist reports here.
Utp Core Staff
Hannah Donnelly – Co-Artistic Director
Hannah Donnelly (She/Her) is an award-winning Wiradjuri curator, artist, and producer. In 2022 Hannah established the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s First Nations core art collection and permanent exhibition at Yirranma Place, she was a curatorium member for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney and she edited Blacklight: Ten Years of First Nations Storytelling (Sweatshop), a literary anthology of First Nations storytelling from Western Sydney. Her practice and curatorial research spans Indigenous Futures, south-eastern Aboriginal art and intergenerational/intercultural collaborations. Hannah is excited to join Utp now as Co-Artistic Director where she will bring her unique set of skills to arts leadership, with her background not only in multi-arts but also working in policy across international human rights law and developing fee-for-service cultural safety training models.She is passionate about standards and policies to implement organisational structures around ICIP (Indigenous and Cultural Intellectual Property) protection, benefit sharing and reparations. Hannah’s previous roles include Producer of First Nations Programs at ACE and Curator of Aboriginal Programs at Carriageworks. Her recent publications include essays and poetry for Performance Space New York, Artist Profile, After Australia, Sovereign Words, Artlink, Acclaim Magazine, Writers Victoria and Cordite Poetry Review.
Jessica Olivieri – Co-Artistic Director
Dr Jessica Olivieri (She/Her/They) is a BA graduate of the now defunct, always legendary Western Sydney University Art School, undertaking study at the Piet Zwart and receiving a PhD from Sydney University. This PhD focused on the intersections of visual art, performance, dance and theatre within a community setting and how to do it better. Prior to this, Jessica had a practice as an artist and curator showing at major institutions like Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne and curating for Performance Space, Sydney and Campbelltown Arts Centre. Jessica's experience of growing up in an intercultural environment, as well as ten years of house-bound chronic illness and dyslexia, have informed her commitment to intersectional access to the arts.
Hareen Johl – General Manager
Since 2020, Hareen Johl (She/Her) has been working as a Co-Director and Treasurer at Pari, an artist-run space based in Parramatta. Her previous roles include Finance Manager and Head of Product at Art Money. Hareen’s experience in a startup and early-stage business as well as a community-centred ARI has equipped her to improve and adapt an organisation’s internal systems and structures to respond to its evolving needs, in order to best serve its values and communities.
Hareen completed a Master of Art Administration from University of New South Wales in 2014 and holds a Bachelor of Finance & International Business from University of South Australia. Hareen grew up in Launceston, Tasmania.
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. After working in radio as a broadcast journalist for a few years, Eddie started her career in the arts working on community arts projects in Western Sydney as an artist facilitator and thanks to esteemed cultural workers in this field has learned (and is still learning) how to work collaboratively and respectfully on projects that centre people. Eddie studied Fine Arts (painting) at the Lebanese University and Digital Media at UNSW. She has recently been awarded the Blake Art Prize (emerging artist) and is getting better at balancing and interweaving being a mum, working and making art. You can contact Eddie from Monday to Thursday at eddie [at] utp.org.au.
Languages spoken: Arabic, French
Celine Cheung – Communications Coordinator
Celine Cheung (She/Her) is a visual artist and designer, who is broadly interested in storytelling and DIY cultures. As of late, she has been moving between art-making, education and curating as a freelance community facilitator. Celine has held roles at 4A Centre for 4A Centre of Contemporary Asian Art, Bankstown Arts Centre and various film festivals. Since completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Arts from UNSW Art and Design, she has worked with Parramatta Artists’ Studios, The Waiting Room Project and Diversity Arts Australia to present various projects and commissions. She is also currently a Co-Director at artist-run gallery Pari. You can contact Celine from Monday to Thursday at celine [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.
Michelle Hanna - Chair
Michelle is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a communications and production specialist working across arts, media, not-for-profit and government. Currently Manager of Internal Communications at the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Michelle also chaired 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 GoodPitch2 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 including for Sculpture by the Sea, the Biennale of Sydney and triple j. Michelle commenced her career working with the team that delivered the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Arts Festivals. Michelle is undertaking a Graduate Certificate of Social Impact at the University of NSW's Centre for Social Impact.
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 and is a passionate advocate for Western Sydney. In her current role as General Manager of Western Sydney Business Connection, 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 has more than three decades of experience in marketing, commercial partnerships and stakeholder engagement across government, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Dr Jessica Olivieri
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 is a lawyer with extensive law firm and in-house corporate legal experience and is currently Head of Legal Delivery & Senior Legal Counsel at ASX Limited specialising in financial markets, corporate, governance and regulatory law. She is a director of Utp, Critical Path and National Young Writers Festival and former Chair of Critical Stages and director of Brand X.
Shannon Williams (Brothablack)
BrothaBlack is one of Australia's pioneers of Indigenous Hip Hop. He is a founding member of Indigenous Hop Hop. crew, South West Syndicate. In 2007 he released his first solo album 'More Than a Feeling' featuring the breakthrough single 'Are you with me out there' fast becoming an anthem for underground Hip Hop goers and added some genuine south-west side grunt to the soundtrack for Foxtel's smash hit TV series, 'Dangerous'. He has received extensive airplay on Triple J including performing a set for Live at the Wireless, broadcast in 2007. BrothaBlack is also an accomplished actor and performing with more than 200 performances under his belt. He featured on the Foreign Heights track 'Get Yours (Remix' nominated for the 0207 ARIA Award for Best Urban Release. BrothaBlack also appeared as the studio host in Move It Mob Style seasons 1, 2 and 3 nominated in 2012 for The ASTRA Awards Most Outstanding Children's Program or Event and in 2014 for Most Outstanding Children's Program at the 56th annual TV Week Logie Awards.
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 organisations as a freelance arts administrator, project coordinator and cultural consultant.
Based on Darug Country in western Sydney, Tian Zhang is an award-winning curator and changemaker 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 has more than ten years experience producing culturally attentive and site responsive projects, working with organisations such as Utp, Parramatta Artists' Studios, Blacktown Arts, Sydney Customs House, Brisbane Festival and Brisbane City Council.
With a deep commitment to grassroots, collective and collaborative practices. Tian is a founding co-director of Pari, an artist-run gallery and community space for Parramatta. She was previously Chair and co-director at Firstdraft and has co-founded and contributed to arts collectives in Meanjin/Brisbane. Tian is an alumnus of the Australian Council for the Arts Future Leaders Program and the British Council INTERSECT Program.