Directing Student Liz Peterson Receives 2023 Social Justice Mini-Grant

Anastasia Ellis
February 22, 2023

Directing student Liz Peterson has been awarded one of University Life’s Social Justice Mini-Grants for 2022-2023. Peterson received the grant for her conception and organization of “Equity in the Arts: From Curation to Development,” a project that brings together a panel of artists to discuss equity, diversity, and inclusion in the performing arts, film, and visual art fields.

The Office of University Life’s Social Justice Mini-Grant program, formerly the Racial Justice Mini-Grant program, is in its third year. The program was conceived in a 2020 statement by President Lee Bollinger that renewed Columbia’s commitment to anti-racism. In the first two years, the mini-grant program focused only on projects relating to racial justice, and has this year expanded to include social justice initiatives that concentrate on the intersections of race, class, gender, and beyond. In a statement about the program’s expansion to a wider focus on social justice, Senior Associate Vice President for Student Life, Ixchel Rosal, said, “No one experience is a universal experience…All of us hold multiple identities, and communities are impacted by a variety of forces and forms of repression. Being able to fully address those experiences is critical if we’re going to truly have projects that have an impact.”

The mini-grant program also grew in funding this year, amounting to $17,500, which was split among twelve projects created by a total of sixteen students. The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life subsidizes the mini-grant program alongside University Life. 

Peterson’s “Equity in the Arts” project aims to foster a dialogue that reframes questions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the fine arts from a deficit perspective into an asset-based perspective. This reframing will enable a constructive discussion around equitable pay structures, hiring practices, authorship, scheduling, and representation.

Liz Peterson (she/her) is a theater director and producer who focuses on immersive performance and multimedia projects. Her perennial interests include alternate dimensions, mixed-race identities, and observing different qualities of attention. Born in Manchester, UK, to a Mancunian mother and Anglo-Indian/Burmese father, Peterson spent most of her life in St. John’s, Melipilla, and Toronto. She is a former Associate Artist with Public Recordings, and a 2021 Research Fellow with Roundabout Theatre. Her work has been shown at the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival, OFFTA, Rhubarb Festival, Incubator Arts Project, Dancemakers, La Poderosa, and the SummerWorks Festival. She earned a BA in Theatre and French Linguistics from the University of Toronto and is earning her MFA in Directing at the School of the Arts.