TCQ&A: Craig T. Peterson

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which produces the River to River Festival and runs The Arts Center at Governors Island, turns 50 next year and has just chosen Craig Peterson as its new president. Peterson has been a fixture of the downtown cultural scene for decades; his most recent post was VP for visual and performing arts at the Henry Street Settlement, where he directed the Abrons Arts Center on Grand Street. Before a stint in Philly, he was director of programs for Gibney Dance on Chambers. He has a MBA from Columbia and a BA in dance and theater from Bard.

The rules of the TCQ&A: Answer as many of the 48 questions as you like (but a minimum of 15, and you must answer #1–4).

1. How long have you lived in the area? Where did you move from? Where are you originally from?
I have lived in NYC since 1993. I went to Bard College about 2 hours north so I spent a lot of time in the city before moving to the LES right after graduation. I now live in Brooklyn and I currently work in the LES. I grew up in rural New England. It’s beautiful there but I am never going back. NYC is my home.

2. Married? Partnered? If so, what’s his/her name and occupation?
Yes, I have been with my husband, Darrell Martin, for 25 years. He’s an occupational therapist and recently launched some really exciting programs that will provide mental health services to artists. He is a former artist and when he completed his Social Work degree at NYU, he wanted to find ways to stay connected to artist communities and help artists build emotionally sustainable lives. It’s something we talk about a lot since we have both worked in the arts for a long time.

3. Kids? Pets?
We’ve raised a lot of kids. We adopted two babies many years ago (Maya, 19 and Liana, 17) but we also fostered three teenagers (Tinisha, Christina and Rakeem, all in their 30s now) for several years. At one point, we had a very, very full house. Currently we only have Liana at home. She’s a senior at the Harbor School on Governors Island and Maya is a sophomore at Bard College.

4. Where do you live?
We live in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. We would consider moving back to Manhattan at some point (when our nest is empty) but Ditmas Park has beautiful Victorian houses and lots of trees. We have a yard. We have a driveway! During COVID, when we were all quarantining, it was pretty nice to have outdoor space.

5. What do you do for a living? Or, what’s your non-day job that is relevant to readers?
I have recently been appointed president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. I will be starting my new post in mid-October. LMCC is a major source of granting and resource support for NYC artists as well as the producer of the River to River Festival (a public art festival that takes place in Lower Manhattan every June.) Additionally, LMCC runs the Arts Center on Governors Island. It’s a vital and dynamic organization and I am so excited to join the team.

7. Most-frequented restaurants:
I’ve been going to Odeon since before I moved to NYC. When I go to Odeon, I just know I am NYC.

9. Best sandwich: Everything at Blue Spoon is delicious. I don’t think I have ever met a sandwich I don’t like.

17. How I stay fit:
I used to go to the gym but since COVID, I just like to walk a lot. I usually walk about 25 miles a week. I love walking in NYC. It’s the best way to clear my head. And even though I am definitely a city-person, I do enjoy walking through the parks and hearing the wind in the trees. During COVID it was the only thing that kept me sane.

22. A recent case of sticker shock: [Please avoid real estate.]
I love theater but it’s distressing how expensive it is to see live performance. Broadway tickets are insanely expensive. Theater and performance are the lifeblood of NYC in many ways – but so few New Yorkers can afford to enjoy it.

23. When my kids are older, they’ll always remember… .
I have always brought my kids to a lot of shows. A lot of strange and unusual experimental art events. And occasionally I volunteered them to participate in some shows, though they probably don’t appreciate some of the things I got them into! The weirder it was, the more I would just try to explain to them that they will have really great stories to tell at cocktail parties when they’re older. Or, maybe their therapist?

25. Advice for other parents:
Take your kids to see art. It makes them curious and they see stuff that adults can’t see – so it’s fun for everyone.

26. Kids’ classes you’d recommend:
The art classes and camp at Abrons Arts Center are very special. Abrons has a very long history of arts education and now, with new funding support, most low-income local families can take classes for free.

30. I tend to take out-of-towners to:
Governors Island. It’s like stepping back in time. And it still has a charm that has not been destroyed by over-development, like so much of NYC. When you walk around the island, you can see every borough, bridge and the Statue of Liberty. It makes you realize how connected we are to water – which is easy to forget even though we’re all living here on a bunch of islands. It’s a really special place and I hope it keeps its simple charm and wide open spaces.

36. My most memorable celebrity sighting:
When I first moved to NYC I waited tables at a very hip restaurant [Bowery Bar, in the former gas station on 4th Street that closed in 2020]. I had celebrities at every table basically every night. It was a total scene, totally wild and so much fun. Because everyone was famous, it was more like a party where people would get up move from table to table. At first it made me nervous but then I just got used to it. It was an amazing start to living in NYC.

38. The most romantic spot around:
I proposed to my husband on the Brooklyn Promenade so, that’s definitely our spot.








Recent TCQ&As:
Victoria Meakin
Roya Shanks
• Will Heinrich
•  Jon Pepper
• Peter Carey
• Patrick McGrath
• Logan Levkoff
• Edward Burns
• Ben LeBlanc
• Jacob Weisberg