Ms Lisa Havilah

Honorary Doctor of Letters

Citation delivered by Professor Patricia M. Davidson, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Lisa Havilah as an Honorary Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on 3 November 2022.


Deputy Chancellor, I present Ms Lisa Havilah.

Lisa Havilah is among the Australian arts and cultural sector’s most innovative and influential leaders, taking the nexus of contemporary art and community engagement to
bold new places that reflect and shift our cultural landscape.

Following her UOW studies in creative arts and law, Lisa co-founded Project Contemporary Artspace, a Wollongong-based not-for-profit gallery committed to supporting the region’s emerging contemporary artists. Securing funding to ensure the initiative’s impact into the future, in 1998 she took on the role of Assistant Director of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Western Sydney. Over six years, she developed and managed an international contemporary visual arts programs focused on community engagement, making her name as a force for positive change and new ways of working in the arts.

Lisa was appointed Chair of the NSW Ministry for the Arts Western Sydney Arts Program in 2004. In 2005 she became Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, leading it to pioneer an internationally renowned contemporary arts program that engaged culturally and socially diverse communities through art. When she became Director of Carriageworks in 2011, few had heard of it. Lisa led its transformation into a vibrant multi-disciplinary contemporary urban arts precinct, collaborating extensively with diverse communities to deliver what is now a celebrated jewel in Sydney’s creative crown.

In 2019, Lisa was appointed the Chief Executive of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, known as the Powerhouse Museum. A pivotal position at the forefront of the nation’s creative sector, Lisa is now applying her signature leadership – innovative, fearless, and consultative – to the significant challenge of delivering the $1.4b renewal of the Powerhouse; which includes the new flagship Powerhouse Parramatta, the renewal of the much loved Powerhouse in Ultimo and the digitisation of the Powerhouse Collection.

Deputy Chancellor, Lisa Havilah has enriched the cultural life of our region, state and nation, and advanced participation and reach across the arts. She is a shining champion
of redefining cultural institutions as radical, participatory and in service of artists and communities.

It is a privilege to present Ms Lisa Havilah for a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.