Lifting Voices


The arts are one of the most powerful tools for giving voice to underrepresented peoples and stories. Arts at Michigan supports art that aims to do this through many of our programs, and this initiative seeks to more clearly recognize these projects, events and opportunities.

Lifting Voices on Our Blogs

Our student bloggers review arts events and discuss the local arts scene. The selections here relate to our Lifting Voices initiative.

See weekly posts from our students writers and artists illuminating their thoughts and experiences with the arts! The selections here relate to our Lifting Voices initiative.


Passport to the Arts

Passport To The Arts encourages students to explore the arts on campus. Pick up a new Passport ticket voucher every two weeks, and exchange it for a FREE ticket to a great selection of events, including events marked as "Lifting Voices," selected to introduce you to new stories and cultures.

Accolades Awards

The Accolades Awards recognize U-M student organizations for their outstanding achievements in the arts each year, and for their leadership in the university's vibrant arts community.

In 2020 we presented a special Lifting Voices award to a student org who has successfully exemplified the ideals of this initiative.

This year’s Lifting Voices Award winner was University Students Against Rape.

Funded Projects

Student Mini Grants

Arts at Michigan awards Student Mini-Grants to undergraduate student groups and individuals to support arts and cultural projects such as exhibitions, performances, concerts, guest-artist visits, site-specific art, workshops, films, festivals and publications.

Additional funds are available this year as part of the Lifting Voices initiative to help support students presenting work that share this initiative's goals.

A Night at the [M]et

October 5th 2019
Semia Clay, Sister 2 Sister

Sister 2 Sister throws an annual ball to recognize and celebrate African-American excellence at the University of Michigan. This year, to honor the 20th anniversary, the gala was hosted at UMMA. The goal was to open the museum to members who would not normally experience it, the main focus being the exhibition “Pan-African Pulp: A Commision” by Meleko Mokgosi, a powerful exhibit examining the complexity of blackness and connects to a deep history of activism in Detroit. The evening also featured student performances and a spoken word exhibition.

Images of Identities Open Mic

October 5th 2019
Daniel Kumapayi, Images of Identities

Images of Identities provides free improv comedy shows on campus that create an opportunity to escape school life and relieve stress through laughter. They hosted an open mic open to poets, singers, dancers, comedians, or anyone who had something to share!

Our Place

October 6th 2019
Karalyn Schubring, Front Porch

With "Our Place," Front Porch celebrated incredible composers from the University of Michigan's composition program with four world premieres by Douglas Hertz, Nina Shekhar, Corey Dundee, and Jung Yoon Wie alongside additional works from their ever-expanding repertoire. This concert was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the University of Michigan's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Daddy Long Legs

October 24th 2019
Noah Eisenberg, 3AM Productions

The musical DADDY LONG LEGS follows teen orphan Jerusha Abbott, who is spotted by a young benefactor, Jervis Smith. He sees her potential and anonymously pays for her to have a proper education, the only stipulation being that she write him a monthly letter of her progress, to which he will not reply. The two quickly become enamored with each other's mystery and intellect, and we take a hard hitting look at the motivations for generosity, finding the secret of happiness, early feminism, and the uses and lies that come with connection and knowledge. The set was made of a large number of books (resulting from a book drive), which were later donated to Kids Read 2 Kids and Reading is Fundamental. The performance occurred in the Duderstadt Video Studio, and featured a final filmed product as well.

A World Beyond: Re-Imagining Activism Through Performance

November 7th 2019
Victoria Briones, Arts in Color

A World Beyond: Re-Imagining Activism Through Performance was a curated student choreography showcase featuring original works created by undergraduate dance majors. “The choreographic theme of the showcase is “World-Making: How Can We Create the World We Want to Live In?” World-making is a powerful technique commonly used in arts activism. It encourages both the artist and audience to imagine and hope for a better reality. We hope that we can expand the audience’s conceptions of dance performance. The performance will provide a platform for artists to explore their own relationship to social justice issues and - most importantly - their power to be agents of change.”

Let it Be: a Kathak Presentation

November 8th 2019
Rajeswari Balasubramaniam, SPICMACAY

UM SPICMACAY's fall concert this year was a Kathak presentation by Prashant Shah and troupe titled "Let It Be". Kathak is the Hindustani name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. Kathak dancers tell various stories through their hand movements and footwork, but most importantly through their facial expressions. ‘Let it be’ – is a collection of few short choreographies presented in both, traditional and contemporary Kathak forms. It is an effort to bring in these timeless flow of changes in traditional technique and presenting them in solo and group presentations emphasizing the balance of power and grace.

Panchabhootam: The 5 elements

November 8th 2019
Kavyapranati Pratapa, Michigan Sahana

Sahana performers expressed the aura of the elements through their avenues of the Indian classical arts. The audience saw musicians create wind and dancers create fire; Hindustani and Carnatic music was presented, as well as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, and Kuchipudi dance styles. The show was free and open to all audiences.


November 9th 2019
Zoha Bharwani, independent project

Displace was a student-written, student-directed street theatre one-act that confronts the reality of police brutality in refugee camps through the eyes of two siblings residing at the re-populated camp in Calais, France towards the end of 2018. The audience was invited to sit on makeshift seats of cardboard and tarp to watch the action unfold all around them. They were invited to participate and change the course of the performance at several points. In this way, Displace not only tells the story of the migrants who have been displaced from their homes, but it also displaces the audience and forces them to confront their comfort and complacency. The performances took place at 8pm on November 7, 8, and 9 in the Newman Studio of the Walgreen Drama Center. The production was a collaborative effort between representatives from Arab Students Association, Muslim Students Association, Michigan in Color, Michigan Refugee Assistance Program, and the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

IASA Cultural Show: Kahaani: The Tale of our Time

November 15th 2019
Harsh Jhaveri, Indian American Student Association

“Every year, the Indian American Student Association puts on a Cultural Show, featuring 10 different student planned and choreographed dances of various styles, showcasing the rich and multi-faceted nature of Indian American Culture. Various exhibition acts from other South Asian-aligned performance organizations on campus were invited in order to showcase the full range of artistic prowess in the South Asian community at Michigan. From classical North Indian styles such as Bhangra to South Indian styles such as Village to modern fusion dances, the event allows members to express themselves and their connection to Indian American culture and share this culture with everyone else.”

MEMCO x Maize Collective x WCBN Present: Impulse 03 Featuring DJ Minx

November 22nd 2019
Jordan Stanton, Michigan Electronic Music Collective (MEMCO)

This event was a 5-hour live DJ event hosted at Club Above, an Ann Arbor music venue. MEMCO collaborated with fellow on campus music orgs (Maize Collective and WCBN FM) to bring out a special guest, DJ Minx. Minx is an internationally acclaimed techno and house DJ hailing from Detroit. She played the first ever Detroit Electronic Music Festival (now called Movement), established female DJ label Women on Wax, and has gone on to play clubs and festivals around the world.

This is Our Youth

November 23rd 2019
Skylar Siben, Basement Arts

This project was a weekend of performances of Kenneth Lonergan's play "This Is Our Youth" produced and performed entirely by students under the leadership of student theatre group, Basement Arts. The play deals with forty-eight hours in the lives of three very lost young souls living on the Upper West Side at the dawn of the Reagan era.

Latinidad Magazine: La Misma Luna

December 10th 2019
Maria Velasquez-Lopez, Latinidad Magazine

Latinidad Magazine is an online and print magazine that serves as a platform for Latinx artists and writers to reclaim their voice and foster an accurate representation of the Latinx community at U-M. There are opportunities for contributors to submit their work monthly, these individuals may be from any and all communities at UM. The launch event was banquet rounds style where board members, artists, and community members are able to openly talk about their own experiences in regard to their identities and how art may influence it. There was an online issue of October’s theme chosen by the Art Committee members; who also have the opportunity to be speakers and share about their own involvement with Latinidad Magazine. The launch event aimed to re-introduce Latinidad magazine to the U-M community

Playwright in Residence

December 11th 2019
Kellie Beck, Blank Space Workshop

Blank Space Workshop was a Fall 2019 recipient of a mini grant that funded a brand new program called Playwright in Residency! Emma Ashford, senior Musical Theatre major, was the inaugural playwright! A reading of her musical, "Heartbeats", performed in the Newman Studio Wednesday, December 11th to full audiences for both the 7:00 and 11:00 performance! Telling the story of a not so far away future where young women who attempt abortions are sent to prison "New Life Units", Heartbeats shadows one young woman, Ava, and her journey at the hands of the state.


December 20th 2019
Shira Baron, independent project

Alleycat is a short film that tells the story of two college-aged, black, male friends who stumble upon an assortment of old lingerie and other clothing left out by a neighbor in their alley. The clothing that they dig through challenges each boy to explore how masculinity, sexuality, and desire impact the way that they engage with their findings. The larger goal of the film was to invite viewers to enjoy an artistically composed short film, while opening the floor for dialogue about how sexual desire and race are often represented in pop culture.

What the F Issue 17

January 11th 2020
Lindsey Smiles, What the F Magazine

The purpose of What The F Magazine is to provide Michigan students with a form of art and media that will give them a voice and treat them as intelligent individuals as opposed to shallow consumers; we seek to empower the female population of campus by offering factual information about their health and other issues they face. We promote healthy and happy lifestyles and allow women to share their stories and experiences. What The F gives all students the opportunity to publish their writing and artwork.


January 24th 2020
Sydney Prince, Basement Arts

"​Falsettos"​ brings together two installments of the trilogy by William Flinn, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland to create a musical about love, family and loss through the lens of the 1980’s AIDS epidemic. Basement Arts brought together queer creators to put on a small, intimate performance.

Malaysian Cultural Night

February 2nd 2020
Pei Ying Goh, Malaysian Students' Association (MiMSA)

Malaysian Cultural Night (MCN) is organized annually to showcase the diversity of Malaysia. It brings Malaysian culture to life through stage acts, songs, dances, and foods. The 2020 MCN included a light-hearted play and traditional dances from different ethnic groups in Malaysia.

Beads for Yemen

February 3rd 2020
Maryam Masood, Michigan Refugee Assistance Program

The Michigan Refugee Assistance Program collaborated with four other student organizations (The United Nations Children's Fund, the Yemeni Student Association, the National Arab American Medical Association, and the Arab Student Association) to host a bracelet-making event to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. They opened the event by having a Yemenis collaborator speak from personal experience about the crisis, followed by a second educational brief on the topic. The remaining time was dedicated to bracelet-making while enjoying Middle Eastern pastries. These bracelets were made from red, white, and black beads - the color of the Yemeni flag - to symbolize solidarity and support for Yemen.

The Color Cabaret

February 9th 2020
Thani Brant, independent project

The Color Cabaret is a biennial cabaret put on by the students of color in the Department of Musical Theatre. Students from a plethora of backgrounds and cultures come together for two nights to perform songs and dance numbers from the musical theatre canon, in celebration of the growing diversity in the department and in a push for greater diversity in the musical theatre industry. They hope to showcase the progress our industry has made so far in diversifying the stories we tell, while also calling attention to the stories they could give life to if given the opportunity.

What Was and May Be

February 14th 2020
Alyxandra Ciale, We the People Representing Our Unifying Diversity (PROUD) Polycultural Productions

Written and performed by Alyxandra Ciale Charfauros and Michael Yuchen Tong, WHAT WAS + MAY BE is based on Charfauros’ and Tong’s longstanding relationship as strangers, long-distance lovers, and creative partners. This multimedia performance explores the interwoven dimensions in which Ciale and Michael meet to defy and define human connection working within the fabric of our lives. It is an expression of love as a form of celebration and resistance.

What Was and May Be

February 14th 2020
Alyxandra Ciale, We the People Representing Our Unifying Diversity (PROUD) Polycultural Productions

Written and performed by Alyxandra Ciale Charfauros and Michael Yuchen Tong, WHAT WAS + MAY BE is based on Charfauros’ and Tong’s longstanding relationship as strangers, long-distance lovers, and creative partners. This multimedia performance explores the interwoven dimensions in which Ciale and Michael meet to defy and define human connection working within the fabric of our lives. It is an expression of love as a form of celebration and resistance.

MEMCO Speaker Masterclass

February 16th 2020
Jordan Stanton, Michigan Electronic Music Collective

To accompany their annual black history month party, MEMCO hosted a 2-hour speaker event in accordance with the party to delve deeper into the party's themes of music, community, and DIY activism. Guest speakers included Stacey Hotwaxx (the local DJ and activist behind Sheometry Music Festival in Detroit), “Mad Mike” Banks (DJ and cofounder of Detroit’s notorious Underground Resistance group), and Ron Johnson (owner of Spin Inc).

Bronze Elegance Fashion Show 2020: Met on the Runway

February 22nd 2020
Rafaela Sabino Hasner, Bronze Elegance Fashion Show

Bronze Elegance Fashion Show brings together hundreds of students, parents and local residents to experience a show celebrating fashion, art, culture, and originality. The event begins with a pre-performance of local musicians and an exhibition of models (“living sculptures”) to showcase student art that promotes social consciousness. On the elegantly designed runway, models of diverse body types and ethnicities present unique designs through the lens of their own identities and artistic vision. The show is composed of several “scenes” inspired by the past Met Gala events, each of them with their own creative choreographies, themed designs, and performances, which include singers, dancers, and instrumentalists.

Thus Spoke 2020 Winter Production

February 27th 2020
Yicong Sun, Thus Spoke Ann Arbor

“Hello Insanity,” originally a Chinese comedy movie from 2016, tells a story of a girl who is unaware of her own multiple personality disorder, how she gradually realizes she is the one who is ill, and how she finally overcomes her disorder and accepts herself.

Uncover: A/PIA Spring Video

March 28th 2020
Karla Wong, Uncover: A/PIA

Uncover: A/PIA is a student organization on campus that provides a platform for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans (A/PIA) individuals to tell their own story. Their mission is to promote connection and understanding while challenging stereotypes associated with the A/PIA identity by showcasing the diverse narratives. This project, the Annual Spring Video, deals with political engagement and voting throughout the A/PIA community.

Idealized Cuban Family Structures

April 17th 2020
Maite Iribarren, independent project

Referencing both the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Steel Construction Manual and the 1975 Cuban Family Code, which proclaimed the role of each family member in order to “fix” the family wherever it was “broken”, Iribarren mapped their family’s complex interpersonal relationships and translated them into a steel structure.

Drop Outs

April 21st 2020
Seth Andrews, independent project

Drop Outs, an honors thesis project, is a student-created sitcom pilot episode about two queer college artists that decide to drop out and restart a forsaken theatre. It tackles themes including being queer in the Midwest, being an outsider in your hometown and loving it enough to stay anyway, and the role of art in making change.

Bamboo Flute by Flute Raman - Immortal Ragas

November 7th 2020
Sasanka Mouli Neti, Spicmacay

Spicmacay at UM hosted a reputed Indian flautist who specializes in the bamboo flute. Mr. Raman Kallyan specializes in ragas that have the ability to manifest different emotions in listeners by re-aligning their body's chakras. Mr. Kalyan's performance was accompanied by a percussionist and a violinist.

Thus Spoke Ann Arbor 2020-2021 Production

February 1st 2021
Chieh Wen Chen, Thus Spoke Ann Arbor

Thus Spoke Ann Arbor, a student organization focused on Chinese art and live performance, put on a hybrid performance that was accompanied by a Chinese broadcast and mini movie.

Đêm Việt Nam (A Night in Vietnam) Culture Show

February 20th 2021
Jenny Vu, Vietnamese Student Association

This is an entirely student-run show dedicated to portraying the Vietnamese-American narrative. DVN strives for participants and audience members to learn about the Vietnamese culture while also allowing members to dive deeper into their own cultural stories and narratives.

Emotional Creature

March 19th 2021
Levana Wang, independent project

Acting as director and working with FTVM students, Wang produced an adaptation of Emotional Creature, a play that follows different women and their journey to womanhood through a series of monologues. They put on this production with the goal of telling stories of marginalized communities and bringing attention to voices that are often left unheard.

Slut: The Play

March 20th 2021
Alexandra Lee, Basement Arts

This production of Slut: The Play by Kate Cappiello was filmed and streamed through YouTube. The stream was coupled with a post-show live talkback to address the portrayals of sexual violence in media. Panelists included experts from UM, the co-creator of the original production, and Dr. Ayshia Elizabeth Stephenson, an intimacy director, anti-racist advocate, and award-winning writer. This project was also a fundraiser for SAPAC and a local nonprofit that fights sexual violence, First Step.

Reading + Q&A with Zeyn Joukhadar

March 25th 2021
Tahani Almujahid, Hikayat

Hikayat hosted writer and LGBTQ+ activist Zeyn Joukhadar in a reading and Q&A about his book, The Thirty Names of Night. They asked about Zeyn's personal experience as a living writer and being a trans person in Italy, as well as the LGBTQ+ experience within the Arab community.

2021 Culture Show: Crash Landing with KSA

March 30th 2021
Megan Mattichak, Korean Student Association

The Korean Student Association Culture Show is an annual not-for-profit event showcasing student organizations and performance groups promoting authentic Korean culture through traditional and modern art forms, including traditional and modern Korean dance, Korean drum performances, and Taekwondo.

Aurora: Painting Our Cultures Across the Night Sky

April 2nd 2021
Jaimie Ryou, Generation Asian Pacific American

In one of the largest pan-Asian cultural shows in the Midwest, GenAPA asks Asian or Pacific Islander-interest performing student organizations on campus to display the diversity and beauty of the AAPI community.

American Dreamin'

April 8th 2021
Meghan Chou, independent project

American Dreamin’ follows Grace, a first-generation Chinese-American investigative reporter dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and her own mental health struggles as she begins to investigate her family. As she does so, she tries to answer the question of what we owe our family. The thesis also captured an abstract understanding of Detroit to show how the setting is integral to the show itself.

Kala Sagara

April 10th 2021
Akshay Gopinathan, Michigan Sahana

Kala Sagara is a nationwide virtual conference that includes many student and professional performances and workshops to educate and expose others to Classical Indian Music and Dance.


April 29th 2021
Christian Kassab, independent project

HOME is a filmed cabaret show that showcases BIPOC students at The University of Michigan sharing what ‘home’ means to them. Through performative art, these students of various diverse backgrounds tell their stories of joy, faith, and sorrow as they navigate what it feels like to be home.

The Highest Heaven

April 30th 2021
Milo Miller, independent project

In their senior BFA Directing thesis, Miller produced a performance of José Cruz González’s “The Highest Heaven,” which follows a young boy trying to find his family after the forced repatriation of Mexican Americans during the Great Depression. The story explores the fallibility of borders, the concept of home, the Great Depression, growing up, and the importance of Latinx-Black relationships.

Course Connections

The Course Connections funding program, available for any undergraduate course, supports faculty who seek to connect students with the arts to stimulate and deepen their learning experiences at the University.

Additional funds are available this year as part of the Lifting Voices initiative to help support course activities that share this initiative's goals.

Examples of projects funded as part of our Lifting Voices initiatives are available on our Past Grant Recipients page

No known recipients for this term~