Photos by Cameron Wittig
Fionn Meade of the Walker Art Center (left) and Acme Comedy Club founder Louis Lee met for lunch at the American Swedish Institute.
On the surface, each art form is an island with its own unique climate and governing rules. But distill the various genres to their elemental components and the space between them falls away. At least that’s what we found when we paired seven local arts leaders and tasked them with the simple mission of having a conversation. Walker Art Center artistic director Fionn Meade and Acme Comedy Club owner Louis Lee found common ground on controversy in their respective worlds. First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz and the co-artistic directors of Ragmala Dance Company bonded over their successes and failures. And Minnesota Opera general director Nina Archabal talked with Mu Performing Arts artistic director Randy Reyes about the importance of collaborating with local artists. Each conversation paints a scene dripping in history, rich in a cooperative arts culture unlike any place else in the world.
COMEDY & CONTEMPORARY ART
A chinese-born comedy club owner and an N.Y.C.-bred contemporary art curator walk into a south Minneapolis Swedish restaurant. It’s almost too outlandish a setup even for a joke, right? And yet that is exactly what happened when Acme Comedy club founder Louis Lee and Walker Art Center’s artistic director Fionn Meade met for lunch at Fika in the American Swedish Institute. The pair hadn’t met before and each admitted they hadn’t spent much time considering the other’s craft. Yet they hit it off instantly, drawing easy parallels between comedy and contemporary art, talking about the immensely integrated Twin Cities arts community, and even getting asked if they were members of a Swedish rock band. Maybe they aren’t that outlandish a pair after all.
On the state of things
Fionn Meade: So what are you working on?
Louis Lee: I just came back from Montreal—their Just For Laughs Festival—and I’m looking at what’s going on next year. I mean, the comedy industry has totally changed. There are more comics because of the Internet, and podcasting is huge. It’s really interesting and it’s really creative. I’ve been in the comedy business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen the creativity that we have now.
FM: And even into the art world, by the way. Andy Kaufman considered himself an artist, or like a conceptual artist. But from Andy to now, there are a lot more young artists who actually think of comedy as part of their artistic practice. And I think it’s generational. Like comedy is seen as part of literature. It’s seen as part of contemporary art.
It’s really kind of broken through this conventional box of “the standup.”
LL: People are more creative and less worried about their careers. It used to be there was a basic formula: You work on your act, you try to make it to Montreal, you get discovered, you get the TV deal, and you go do television. Now, more and more comics are actually making a living doing comedy. So people are like, “I don’t need to go to this festival and just smooth talk to some people and try to impress the industry people. I am who I am.”
FM: Pitch your thing. Including you.
LL: Yeah, that’s what it is. It used to be identity comedy: “I am this. I am that. I am Asian. I am female.” Now they’re more free.
FM: It’s interesting. I think even, like, [Zach] Galifianakis, when he first started, he was friends with musicians and artists, and he kind of created interest in different cultural frames that then over time built up a kind of unique profile in which he wasn’t just pitching the standup comic act. And I think in some ways it’s interesting because you can say that’s becoming more of the norm. The expectation is that you have multiple frames for how comic sensibility gets introduced, and that includes a performance act, but it’s not limited to that, and maybe there’s even an expectation that you have a range that can collaborate with other kinds of art forms, which is really interesting. I think that’s a healthy thing.
LL: The next level [of comedy] is right around the corner. Like, Acme gets only so many weeks [to book], but this past year I worked with the Woman’s Club to screen different headliners [there]. And it turned out to be good. Next year I’m planning on maybe six or eight shows in other venues.
FM: Right! That’s good!
LL: And we get along real well. Traditionally in our industry if you have two comedy clubs, the locals can only choose one. Not in Minneapolis. That’s why Minneapolis comics are growing so fast.
FM: I think that’s really important. [Our] show, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia opens in October. It looks at architecture and design, but also looks at activism, and the beginning of alternative lifestyles. So it looks at the graphic output of an artist like Emory Douglas, who was the minister of culture for the Black Panther Party. He’s a remarkable artist but he also has a remarkable history as an American citizen. I was really excited to invite him to do something at the Walker, and in reaching out we found out that Sarah Bellamy, the co-artistic director at the Penumbra Theatre, who is a really great colleague to the Walker, had already invited Emory to come give a lecture in December as part of their “Revolution Loves” [programming]. And that’s a moment where you’re like, “We don’t need to have Emory Douglas come to the Walker. We need to support the awareness of Sarah Bellamy inviting him to Penumbra.” That just makes the ecology and the organism of a civic environment stronger.
On controversial subject matter in the digital age
FM: There are lots of downsides, but there are definitely positives to the new age of broadcasting. It’s like, if you’re [a comedian] on tour, people are going to know and expect that you mix it up. So in a way, you’re not just doing the live presentation, you’re doing the live reception of it being broadcast or circulating in different ways. I think the last 10 years have changed that dramatically.
LL: Comics can go every which way they can these days. It’s amazing. Fifteen years ago, without the Internet, if comics did the wrong thing, if they did a piece that people didn’t get the real meaning of, their careers could get destroyed.
FM: Yeah, that’s true.
LL: I mean, there’s one comic [who did] this piece where he burned a Bill of Rights and then he was holding an American flag [above it] and then the flag went up in flames. And what it meant was, “Hey, our freedom of speech, the reason we have a Bill of Rights, is the reason you can burn a flag. And if the Bill of Rights is gone, the flag is gone too.” He got a standing ovation, but the next thing you know it was like, “He burned the flag!” and he lost all his bookings. If the Internet had been around maybe people would’ve [discussed it] and looked into the details and said, “Hey, you don’t get it. He didn’t burn a flag.”
FM: There’s an artist, Pope.L, and he just did a show at the LA MOCA Geffen. It [featured] an American flag at 80 feet [long]. And it had industrial fans blowing so it was waving into the space. And it blew for the entire run of the show. So for three months, [that] American flag was blowing. And by the end, the edges were tattered; I mean by being blown for three months the flag started to tatter just a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. . . . And it’s interesting, because he was treading on potentially controversial ground, but I think he was doing it with an incredible amount of pride in the flag. . . . They prepared for a controversial response, and they didn’t get it. What they got was a lot of positive response. So I think it speaks to, you know, our appetite for challenging work. And I would say that’s true here. What do you think?
LL: [People in] Minneapolis are very open minded. I find myself able to challenge the audience and look for the new voices. And that word travels really quickly among the comics themselves. Everybody wants to come to Minneapolis. Why? Because the audience is good. So that’s not just comedy, but it’s arts itself.
FM: I’ve been struck by the savvy of audiences. How much they’re aware of why they might be [seeing] something.
On defining success
LL: You know, my challenge is there’s so many comedians out there, but I’ve only got 52 weeks [to book] and, minus the holidays, I might actually only get 45. So I only have so much space, so much room. Do you ever feel like you wish you had more?
FM: I think we’re doing the level we should be doing actually. Because I think that “more” is not always the answer. The mix of those things is really the balance . . . I would say it’s also the shared sense of stakes. That art does matter. Art matters deeply. And that includes comedy, that includes performance art, that includes filmmaking. But that’s just not the Walker’s responsibility. That’s yours as well.
LL: If you provide a stage inspired by the artist becoming the artist, you’ll get more laughs.
FM: I think that’s a pretty good definition [of success] right there.
LL: I helped a good friend open up a club in Philadelphia and now he’s got clubs all over the country. He has investors. He’s always booked up. I told him that the reason I don’t open another club is because I’ll lose a lot of sleep if I have investors. And I don’t want to look at that and make decisions on how I think the club should run. Sitting down and talking with you, you also have a responsibility to answer to somebody.
FM: Sure. If you can provide the stage for artists to take risks and inspire laughs, inspire questions, inspire ideas, inspire emotions, then you’re doing your job. I think we also host risk; we don’t put institutions and audiences at risk. So you need to provide a frame and presentation and a time. A time register to host risk. And I think that’s very much at the central definition of art. Whether it’s comedy, or film, or music. . . . When art takes a hold of you, even if it’s uncomfortable, it changes you.
THEATER & OPERA
What could minnesota arts grande dame Nina Archabal and Mu newbie Randy Reyes possibly have in common? They are 35 years apart in age, grew up on opposite coasts, and until they sat down at Keys Café in downtown St. Paul, they had met only once before after a Gremlin Theatre performance of Reyes’s. When she arrived at Keys, Archabal, the new general director of Minnesota Opera (and former long-time director of the Minnesota Historical Society), confessed, “I don’t think I’ve been to a Mu performance,” to which Reyes, artistic director of Mu Performing Arts (and long-time Twin Cities actor) replied, “I’ve never been to the Minnesota Opera. So we have that in common.”
On maintaining a core audience, and going beyond
Randy Reyes: Our core is great. We get people who believe in our mission or have some connection with the Asian-American experience. We just try to keep relations with them through any means—not just sending an e-mail, but having real relationships. We want our core to be donors, too.
Nina Archabal: Opera is often seen as elitist. But they are touching stories. Our production of The Magic Flute [Ordway in mid-November, Duluth on October 31] touches people. It’s very high-tech, it’s got a lot of projections onto a screen. Young people and non-opera people loved it. And we have new works being premiered here. It’s one of the hallmarks of this company.
On using local artists in highly specialized mediums
NA: We have a training program for resident artists. They are people who are headed toward professional careers in the opera who come from all over the country. A number of our resident artists perform. We cultivate our own, but we also bring in nationally known performers. We have Project Opera: three different teaching tiers for very young singers.
RR: We also believe in training. Because we look for Asian-American talent, I don’t have the talent pool that other people have—we have an Asian-American mission.
Right now we don’t have the capacity to bring in artists from different parts of the country.
NA: That costs money.
RR: Yes. It’s just like baseball. You are nurturing your own camp. For our Taiko group, there are young people in that. For acting, we don’t have that right now. I think it would be great to grow Asian-American talent within the culture of Mu. They would get a cultural aspect to the training.
On changing the color of audiences
RR: We’re trying to engage more of the Asian-American community. I think our audience is 20 to 30 percent Asian-American. There’s a lot of potential to grow that. For immigrant populations, they’re thinking about food and education and housing.
NA: It’s always troubled me at Penumbra [Theatre] that there are more white people in the audience than African-American people.
RR: Culturally specific theaters—that’s our challenge. I grew up at the Guthrie. That is where I was formed as an artist. I have so much respect for that organization. Joe Dowling is the person who started my career. I go to donor events and I see Asian donors there who have never seen a Mu show. And Mu’s been around for 23 years. Why are they more willing to give to the Guthrie? Why aren’t they supporting Mu?
On the relationship of their ethnicity to their artistic medium
NA: My parents were first-generation Italian-American. On Saturday morning my brother and I had to sit in our living room and listen to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast. Opera is a piece of who I am. I grew up in a very historic New England town. We were the only Italians who lived on our side of the tracks. My ethnicity was a very private affair, a family affair, and it wasn’t until I read Oscar Handlin’s The Uprooted did I recognize that my personal ethnicity was interesting.
RR: I went to the University of Utah and Juilliard, and neither let me explore my ethnicity. [Reyes was born in the Philippines and raised in Los Angeles.] They were training me to be an actor. But when I got out, my ethnicity became such an important part of how I was being hired. It was a rude awakening. My mom was amazing. She always made me believe that I could do anything. But she believed in hard work and that I should be kind to people along the way. I had to believe in the people who supported me beyond the way I looked. I had the home of the Guthrie. I had enough people who believed in me, and I surrounded myself with that support. That’s the key to any career in the arts.
On partnerships and pies
RR: Now we are trying to find a way in which [the local arts] ecosystem can be even healthier. We have the Twin Cities Theatres of Colors Coalition. You can end up working in a silo sometimes in culturally specific organizations. Sarah Bellamy [from Penumbra Theatre] and I learned we might be better off if we work together. There could be shared resources, shared audiences.
NA: We have The Arts Partnership—four organizations trying to share the Ordway as a whole. The old Ordway was like a boarding house with three beds and four people with reservations. We came up with a new concert hall. It’s working, but we’re still trying to figure out the logistics. For instance, we can have two intermissions at the same time and the bathrooms and bars are full. But the partnership is so precious.
RR: Are you a St. Paul organization?
NA: Minnesota Opera has its offices in Minneapolis and performs in St. Paul. We see ourselves as culturally belonging to the region.
RR: Can you apply for Minneapolis and St. Paul grants?
NA: Yes. Why not? We always need more. You need more, too.
RR: We are a St. Paul organization. But most of our venues for the size that we need are in Minneapolis.
NA: We are all after the same dollars and there’s not enough to go around. But we’re going to find a way.
RR: I think people are realizing that we need to play together. Instead of worrying about the piece of the pie you get, make the pie—
In unison: —bigger.
NA: Exactly. Then you can all have a snack on it.
RR: Exactly. But it takes some ego suppression.
NA: Absolutely it does.
RR: And some really inventive and innovative thinkers, people who see something beyond—and a lot of these organizations are steeped in history.
NA: They’ve done it one way for a long, long time.
RR: It’s very hard to turn the Titanic.
NA: But in can be done.
On touring shows in Minnesota
NA: We have a $150,000 Minnesota State Arts Board grant to take The Magic Flute to Duluth and we still have to raise money and sell seats. We’re hoping to see 2,000 people in seats. The top ticket price in Duluth is $50.
RR: We have done a tour with our Taiko group. Last summer we did our first theater tour, David Henry Hwang’s FOB, and we took it to Chinese restaurants in four cities in Minnesota. Ours had much lower costs, it was three people, and we had a MSAB tour grant. The ticket was $5 and it included a buffet. We connected with different historical groups too, and presented a history of Chinese immigration.
On the value of live theater
NA: It’s very hard to verbalize. What is it that we really give people aside from something to do on a Thursday or Friday night? What is it that people are looking for? There’s something about being in the hall with the real people performing.
RR: It’s the shared humanity. In theater specifically, it is the act of shared imagination. The actors are pretending at the same time the audience is playing the same game. That is euphoric. There’s something to it that brings us together as humans, in the live act, breathing the same air.
LIVE MUSIC & DANCE
On a muggy afternoon in July, Nate Kranz, Ranee Ramaswamy, and her daughter Aparna gathered in a cool corner of the Guthrie Theater. Kranz handles booking and management for First Avenue, as well as promotions for a growing number of First Ave partner venues. Ranee and Aparna run the world-renowned Ragamala Dance Company as co-directors and performers of the South Indian art of Bharatanatyam. Prior to this chat Kranz had never met the Ramaswamys, but no matter—the three were more than game for our experiment. Now and then, tour groups wandered by and eavesdropped, perhaps assuming something important was happening. And in a small way, that was true.
On collaborating with other artists and venues
Nate Kranz: That’s a huge part of our success. I mean, I did 1,000 concerts last year with 20-plus different venues. Our whole thing is we are very into artist development and trying to hold their hand throughout their career, and one thing I go back to all the time is that I get an enormous sense of pride in seeing The Black Keys, where we did them in the 7th St Entry and then we’ve done them at every single stage of their career, from about 250 people to selling out Target Center.
Aparna Ramaswamy: For us, for the last few years, we tour exclusively with live music. So our audiences are not just coming out to see dance, they’re coming out to see music. And of course, we make sure to work with the highest quality or really interesting or cutting edge, really well-credentialed indie musicians.
Ranee Ramaswamy: The last collaboration we did was with Rudresh Mahanthappa, the jazz saxophonist. He is very famous. He was presented at the Walker Art Center in 2007 with an Indian saxophonist, a classical South Indian saxophonist with jazz saxophone. Aparna said, “I want to work with this group.” And they communicated, and we worked with them in 2014 at the Walker [on the show Song of the Jasmine, which also toured to Lincoln Center in New York City, and received rave reviews from The New York Times].
NK: I’ve worked with the Walker on a number of things.
RR: We’ve had like four commissions from the Walker—they’ve been fantastic to us.
NK: I love [the Walker] because they bring in a lot of weird, kind of out-of-left-field experimental musicians and things that I’m really interested in. But I can’t really make any money doing that [at First Ave]. And I’ve tried! My in-laws, there are shows that they’d go see at the Walker, that I know if I was doing at First Avenue, I wouldn’t be able to convince them to go. I think we all kind of benefit from [the Walker] because it kind of opens up people’s minds to what they’ll spend their money on. You know, in this day and age, people’s time is extremely valuable.
RR: That’s true.
NK: What are you going to spend your time doing? And in this city, it’s crazy how many options for entertainment and art we have in a city this size.
On the challenges of the job
RR: We have to fundraise [as a nonprofit]. We have certain grants that we always write, so that means we have to sell it to funders first.
AR: That can get a bit tiring.
To constantly talk to people about why something from India is relevant. I mean, really? There’s so much relevance in history, we learn so much from other art forms. But it’s the first question someone asks you—
NK: “Why should I care?”
AR: [Nods] Why should you care.
NK: I like watching you two talk because I work for a father and daughter—the owners of First Avenue [Byron Frank and Dayna Frank], so I end up in a lot of these conversations. But it’s a little bit of a different aspect in that I work for an accountant, Byron. And I am most definitely not artistic, so I think it’s interesting that you guys—
AR: You’re saying that about yourself?
NK: I know plenty of artists. I appreciate art, I just can’t create—I’ve never found any ability to create it myself.
AR: But in a sense you’re a curator.
NK: There you go. Yes.
RR: And the curator needs to know—
AR: Has to be an artist.
On the all-consuming nature of a job in the arts
NK: My brain never turns off.
AR: Mine? Never.
RR: But if you do, if it turns off, you’re not happy.
AR: I have 5-year-old twins. And sometimes it’s hard to run after them and still try to get your e-mail out or do whatever, but I think it’s a wonderful distraction. It’s a way to focus on something that’s not work, but it’s still extremely fulfilling and makes you happy. And you also know you have your work to go to.
NK: My wife can tell you, if I go to a movie, I might be scribbling something down while I’m sitting there. It is kind of in my brain all the time. I have a measuring wheel in my trunk and it drives my wife crazy because I can’t drive past an open field without pulling over and measuring it and seeing if we could park cars there or whatever, trying to find new, unique places to present these kind of performances.
On making a living in the arts
NK: There is sort of a no man’s land where people are trying to figure out the new economy of pop music. [Bands] used to sell a million records and then go on the road and then take nine months off. And they just can’t really do that anymore because they’re not selling records. And if you’re not selling records, you only have two other options: Either put a song in a commercial or figure out more ways to make money on the road.
AR: The conversation between music and dance—we have this conversation a lot. Because dancers, you only make money when you, yourself, are dancing. There are no records, there’s no royalties. It’s just you out there teaching the class. You’re out there doing the lecture. You are out there doing the performance. You can choreograph, but someone has to pay you for that. Or you have to have your own company and run your own business and sustain. So it’s a difficult art form.
NK: We also know this about musicians. I know a guy who last week was just so happy that he got to quit his pizza-driving job. You know that [hip-hop] group thestand4rd? [Their DJ], Tip, is finally getting enough attention that he doesn’t have to drive pizzas for Toppers three times a week.
AR: Song of the Jasmine was a huge success. I think it definitely did really well [in the Twin Cities]. And it’s toured to a lot of significant places. For the first time ever, we called presenters around the country and we asked them if they wanted to commission, come on as investors of the work. And we’ve never done that before, and we were asked, “Why this project?” and it was because we asked.
NK: It might have opened a new door for you now in the future.
AR: Exactly. And now I’m doing a work with Kyle Abraham—I don’t know if you know the choreographer Kyle Abraham—he received a MacArthur genius grant like two years ago. And the Kennedy Center is going to be one of the commissioners on the work.
NK: Last year, when we did the first Festival Palomino [at Canterbury Park], I was really proud. That was a weird day. It rained, and we had to evacuate people and bring them back for the second half of the show. On that particular one I worked with Trampled By Turtles. So we worked with the band to come up with the vision of what they wanted to do and curated all the bands and put it together. We joke that not nearly as many people would want to get into the music business if they really knew what it’s like. I didn’t get to watch any bands. I was making sure that there was a road behind the porta potties so things could get serviced. I talked to the National Weather Service about how soon we have to evacuate people. But, at the end of the day when you’re done, you can sit down and have a drink and be like, “Wow, 12,000 people had a great time and had no idea of all the problems that we had.”
Big names like the Walker Art Center’s Olga Viso and Minnesota Orchestra’s Osmo Vänskä are just the tip of the Minnesota arts iceberg. Here’s a sampling of the others who, like the seven leaders featured here, are integral to making this scene tick.
Twin Cities Jazz Festival
If you doubted the popularity of jazz in the cities, look no further than the explosion of St. Paul’s Jazz Fest, spreading this year from Mears Park to engulf local bar stages, Union Depot, even Como Lakeside Pavilion.
Director of Content Strategy and Innovation
Twin Cities Public Television Director
How to get millennials to watch public television? Real life parties for Downton Abbey binge-watchers, Friday night MPLS.TV takeovers, and a Buzzfeed-ified website. McDaniel knows her audience.
Co-Director and Editor-in-Chief
A diligent supporter of arts writing, Schouweiler shepherded a Mn Artists overhaul and co-organized the first Superscript conference at the Walker.
A vital step in the local original playmaking process now practically mandates an unfinished performance at the Fringe Fest.
Accountant. COO. Marketer. Beat-maker. You name it, Lazerbeak probably is it for cultural catalyst Doomtree.
The guy behind Soundset, Festival Palomino, and, up until this year, WE Fest is the same man who gave Sue McLean her first job in concert promoting.
The changing of the guard at Jungle promises renewed dedication to new plays and diversity.
We’re not sure when Icehouse became the best venue for consistently great live music, but every time we stop by it’s new, different, and good.
Anyone who gets his chorus group onstage with the Rolling Stones is doing something right. Other innovative plans include an opera by Gertrude Stein.
President & CEO
Brokering the first orchestral trip to Cuba in 16 years was probably a piece of cake compared to rebuilding the peace between musicians and management after a record-setting lockout.
Under the self-imposed theme of collaboration, PF hosted local up-and-comers whose partnerships transformed the space.
Lowell Pickett & Richard Erickson
Dakota and Vieux CarrÉ
All Pickett and Erickson did this year besides book acts like Booker T. Jones and The Blind Boys of Alabama to the Dakota was open up a second club, Vieux Carré, in the former Artists’ Quarter space in Lowertown St. Paul.
Magers & Quinn
Landing Anthony Bourdain and Nick Offerman in the cities was no fluke; Magers has been promoting the literary scene (most of it local) for decades, its strong point of view a selling point.
Artistic & Executive Director
The Schubert Club
If a musician is coming to town for The Schubert Club, you can bet he or she is the best there is.
The Risk Takers
Northern Clay Center
The physical becomes political when rendered at the NCC, which exhibits local and international artists’ work on themes of sexuality, class, and colonialism.
Following in the founder’s footsteps isn’t easy—especially when the founder is your dad. But Bellamy’s had nothing but success, winning a Bush Foundation fellowship and taking on social issues in her first year.
Yellow Tree Theatre
Operating out of a strip mall in Osseo hasn’t stopped YTT from staging thought-provoking gems in its intimate space, or from earning official equity status.
The first new artistic director at the Guthrie in 20 years wasted no time in balancing the theater’s more familiar productions (To Kill a Mockingbird) with challenging works, like a show on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Wrestling Jerusalem).
Minnesota State Arts Board
What do The Floating Library, local film The Public Domain, and free concerts by the Minnesota Orchestra have in common? They all received funding, thanks to Gens’s blessing.
Springboard For the Arts
Because someone’s gotta watch the artists’ backs. Springboard brokers health insurance and holds entrepreneurship training for creatives.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Drawing Christie’s to host the school’s annual scholarship-funding auction was a high-profile move, but the school has been quietly building smart local partnerships participating in FLOW Northside Arts Crawl and featuring student art at FUSE.
Minnesota TV and Film
We could follow Woody Harrelson around town all year if he’d let us, with thanks to the Film Board’s “Snowbate” rebate program for visiting filmmakers. Mallrats 2, are you listening?
Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association
Pelinka might be a victim of her own success. The increased popularity of Art-A-Whirl has meant competing with music and breweries for attention.
The Change Agents
Director & President
Tasked with ushering in a new century of existence, the museum formerly known as the M.I.A. surprised us with water tower art and tours by Scott Seekins. Here’s to another 100.
History Center Museum, Exhibitions & Diversity initiatives
Why be boring? Under Spock’s leadership, the MHC isn’t, featuring farmers’ markets (We Are Hmong) and Mr. Potato Head (Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s)—while tricking us into learning something.
Dr. Kristin Makholm
Minnesota Museum of American Art
It’s hard to believe six years ago the MMAA was on the brink of extinction. Under Makholm’s leadership, it’s found a space and a renewed dedication.