Michael Campbell (Executive Director)
With over 35 years of experience Michael has worked as an arts consultant and strategist, editor, writer, events manager, director and choreographer. He was the Festival Director for the Brisbane Writers Festival (2006-2009), and the literary events program at Gleebooks in Sydney for 4 years (2002-2005). He is currently the Chair of Currency House, and of its Editorial Committee, and edited Keith Bain on Movement and Keith Bain: The Principles of Movement for Currency House and Oberon Books (UK).
Michael has also worked across the arts in various other capacities including as an artistic director, director, choreographer, artistic co-ordinator, producer, events manager, librettist, writer, editor, and dancer. He was a principal dancer with West Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet and Oper der Stadt Köln, and has worked for companies including Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare Company and Griffin Theatre Company. He has worked for Opera Australia on numerous works including Merry Widow, Handa on Sydney Harbour: Carmen and La Traviata, La Forza del Destino and Salome. In 2004 he directed the opera Madeline Lee, which he also co-wrote, and was nominated for seven Helpmann Awards. Recent projects include directing Violent Extremism and Other Party Games (Depot Theatre), Equus (Nomadic Artists), The Cunning Little Vixen (Pacific Opera), an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night and directing, producing and co-creating The Faces of Mercy – a multi-artform work performed in Sydney and Rome; presenting the TV show For the Love of Books (Studio TV – Foxtel); judging the 2013, 2014, 2016 WA Premier’s Book Awards; and writing and directing (she had) immortal longings (Australian Shakespeare Festival, Hobart).
In 2018 he was a member of the Western Sydney Arts, Screen and Culture Roundtable and served on the Creative Arts and Humanities panel for Australia Research Council’s inaugural Engagement and Impact Assessment. In August 2019 Michael was appointed to the inaugural Create NSW Artform Literature Advisory Board.
Christian Pazzaglia (Producer)
Christian has been a multidisciplinary curator, artistic director and producer having worked in Amsterdam and internationally for the past 17 years. He has created exhibitions, public programs, activations and special events for some of the leading cultural institutions in The Netherlands – such as the International Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), Dutch Film Institute (EYE), Van Gogh Museum, Goethe-Institut and Alliance Française. He has also produced feature films and documentaries and, more recently, VR experiences.
Christian moved to Australia at the end of 2016 and has since collaborated with cultural institutions such as Sydney Living Museums, Goethe-Institut, and the Italian Cultural Institute.
His areas of expertise cover a wide range of subjects, contexts and audiences.
Hajer Al-awsi (Associate Producer)
Hajer was born and raised in Australia growing up in Western Sydney primarily in the Parramatta region. She is of Iraqi descent. She is a multi-disciplinary writer. Her writing is concerned with capturing the complexity of being a second-generation Muslim, Arab immigrant. Her writing focuses on female experiences within this identity. The stories encapsulate the psychological effects of tribalism and religiosity often in contexts that challenge practices the protagonists’ have been discouraged, and in many cases forbidden, to participate in.
Hajer is part of the Finishing School Collective, a mentorship program run by Felicity Castagna based in the Parramatta Artist Studios. She has had her writing published in Conatus News, in an installation for Parramatta Lanes Festival, an audio installation for Unspoken Words. Most recently, Hajer co-wrote and acted in ABC iView webseries called Halal Gurls. HALAL Gurls is a 6×6 minute comedy series offering a candid look into the lives of three twenty-something Hijabis living in Bankstown as they endure the unseen and everyday culture clash between their faith and desire.
Having moved around Western Sydney throughout her childhood and adolescence, and attended disadvantaged schools, she is aware of the lack of support for the arts and writing that exists in Western Sydney. She believes that WestWords is making a difference, creating spaces where kids can grow up with opportunities for them to be nurtured and flourish, as people and as artists.
James Roy (Blue Mountains and Blacktown Manager)
James Roy was born in western New South Wales in 1968 and spent much of his childhood in Papua New Guinea and Fiji, adventuring by day and reading books at night. Then one day, tired of reading books by dead people, he decided to start writing his own. Since his first novel was released in 1996, James has written a number of critically acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction for young people, including the CBCA Honour Books Captain Mack and Billy Mack’s War, and six CBCA Notable Books. In 2008, Town also won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the Golden Inky in Australia’s only teenage choice awards. Anonymity Jones won the 2010 Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for young adult literature. His latest book One Thousand Hills, written with Noel Zihabamwe won the NSW Premier Literary Award and a NSW Premier’s History Award.
James lives with his family in the Blue Mountains. He enjoys trying to make music and art, doesn’t like olives very much, and hasn’t entirely abandoned his dream of sailing around the world.
Kathie Elliot (Development Manager)
My professional background has included transport/logistics (freight forwarding, courier and general freight), the not for profit sector (arts, community education, corporate partnerships and fundraising) and recruitment/HR.
After moving to Australia in 2002 years ago I started working in the recruitment/HR industry, providing not only workforce solutions but driving sponsorships and motivators for both employers and employees, established personality profiling and identifying attitudinal drivers. I then went on to work as a Corporate Partnerships Manager for three large Australian charities and negotiated significant social responsibility programs with ASX listed organisations, coupled with managing fundraising teams, high profile events, direct marketing campaigns, sponsorships and media relations.
With a passion for community and in particular the arts, I went on to form my own consultancy, Square Pegs. I’m excited to now be able to assist not for profit organisations and SMEs source extra funding, sustainability, diversification and support for their programs through establishing mutually beneficial partnerships, generating revenue and raising profiles.
Debbie McInnes (Publicist)
Debbie has been involved in public relations for over thirty years, establishing her boutique agency, DMCPR Media in 1993. Since then, DMCPR has reset the bar in communications strategy delivery, with unprecedented media coverage outcomes for clients in publishing, the arts, music, not-for-profit and corporate arena. Her passion to help others share their message is what has seen her succeed and form long lasting client relationships spanning decades.
Prior to founding her consultancy, Debbie worked in sales at Pan Macmillan publishing house before moving into publicity where she was responsible for big brand author campaigns such as Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jackie Collins, Jack Brabham and Oliver Sacks. This opportunity enabled her to promote in a wide range of areas – the arts, sport, entertainment, business, health, travel, gardening and cookery.