Karen Emerson, Artistic Director
Karen is a visual artist with a long history of social activism and an astute artistic eye. She studied at the Ontario College of Art, the Toronto School of Art and Ryerson University, and spent many years prior to joining Children’s Peace Theatre creating workshops for children and youth and using the arts to raise awareness and understanding of issues of peace and social justice. Karen has a strong connection to the community of Crescent Town and believes deeply that art can change the world one person, one community at a time.
Lucia Ly, General Manager
Lucia is a graduate of the Arts Management program at the University of Toronto and has worked in both the public and not-for-profit arts and cultural sectors. An avid traveller, Lucia feels most at ease while completely lost in a different culture and learning about the world around her. She has worked with children and youth, both locally and abroad, and is always amazed by their infinite creativity and imagination. Lucia’s greatest inspiration comes from her family, refugees who came to Canada and through much hard work, courage and perseverance, have given her a life full of possibilities.
Alixa Mukonambi, Social Innovator
Alixa (also known as Alix) is a lifelong student of nature, a storyteller, and an apprentice drummer. She immigrated here from Kenya, studied at the University of Toronto and spent her formative years advocating human rights issues, including a decade of queer/trans/gender policies rights advocacy, art-for-social-change education, as well as organizing and working with youth. Alixa is focused on peace-building & transformative justice work within Tdot and East Afrika, and passionate about harvesting diverse forms of art in reclaiming indigenous Afrikan technologies and sharing stories. She’s infinitely grateful not only to be living in this neighbourhood but to be sharing more resources in growing learning villages through the platform of creativity, compassion & courage at the Children’s Peace Theatre.
Zera Koutchieva, Assistant Manager
Zera is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she specialized in Arts Management and minored in Studio Art. Her work addresses multidimensional identity and questions normative conventions. With a clear passion and aptitude for mixed media, she creates challenging pieces that experiment with unorthodox uses of material and content. Her inspiration draws heavily from her memories of childhood in North Ossetia, where she first developed her love of creating art with found materials. Zera's artistic and work practice has also been deeply influenced by her experiences of displacement and migration through various communities. As someone who has moved frequently both alone and with family, she has navigated many different communities – offering her an acute understanding of the challenges of integrating while maintaining the integrity of her voice and identity. She is grateful for the opportunity to keep growing in a positive direction and to continue her commitment and dedication to the Toronto arts community through her work with the Children’s Peace Theatre.
Melisse Watson, Facilities Manager
Melisse is a queer, gender non-conforming person of colour, who celebrates their roots in Africa, the Cherokee Nation and Ireland as the journey continues in learning the complexities of those inter-sectionalities. Melisse has been writing poetry for 12 years, performing for 4, and while continuing their passion for creation, Melisse ventures into the art of movement, shadow play and music as forms in which to tell their stories. Melisse is a strong advocate for restorative and transformative justice and is working to ever grow mindful in further developing their practice as a tool to connect art making with sustaining the health of community relationships, enhancing our understanding and to re-connect the fallen-through.
Beck Pura, Communications Manager
Beck is a humanist, artist, writer, and wearer of many hats. A graduate of the University of Windsor's Visual Art and Communications Media program, her professional experience spans over eight years in the creative management realm. Prior to joining Children's Peace Theatre, Beck worked as a consultant where she used her creative insights to help local start-ups increase brand recognition, client outreach and market share.
Over the past decade, Beck has worked collaboratively and individually on a number of projects using sculpture, installation, performance art, and spoken word as a means of expression. With a primary focus on painting, she channels her love for the environment as she examines the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on societal norms. Beck maintains active involvement in local environmental organizations and is a Trans/Genderqueer health ambassador. She is grateful that her role at Children's Peace Theatre is a platform that allows her to nurture her passion for creativity, as well as contribute to the enhancement of Toronto's art community.
Lida Alirezaei, Artist Coordinator
Lida is an accomplished arts professional working in visual arts and theatre both in Canada and in her native Iran. She spent many years in Iran as a stage manager and assistant director as well as working as a public relations and international affairs manager for the Iranian Artists Forum. Lida has been involved in social and political documentary filmmaking as a translator and production manager and has directed her own documentary about art and Iran. In Canada, she has participated in two group painting exhibitions and currently manages one artist in Toronto. Her work at Children’s Peace Theatre integrates perfectly with her diverse experiences and interests. Last year Lida worked as a Program Coordinator at CPT. In this position she was able to initiate several small projects to give arts opportunities to a number of diverse artists and refugees hoping to work in the arts milieu in Canada.