Nonprofit Cabaret 313 Tunes Up Detroit Scene With Intimate Performances

Can a cabaret help drive the renewal of the Motor City? A 2½-year-old Detroit nonprofit is betting it can, with site-specific programming that gets audiences and artists alike to explore the newly resurgent Motown.

The brainchild of arts administrator Sandi Reitelman and attorney Allan Nachman, Cabaret 313 has hosted the likes of Ute Lemper, Norm Lewis and Ana Gasteyer in venues across town. This spring, Cabaret 313 has lined up a performance by Alan Cumming, the org’s biggest get so far.

“Cabaret is an intimate, social, very experiential art form, and a very accessible one, too,” Reitelman said. On the producing side, it’s low-cost enough to keep Cabaret 313 nimble on a modest operating budget. (There’s an education component to the initiative, too, with artists teaching master classes to theater students at Wayne State U.)

Wayne S. Brown, the National Endowment for the Arts alumnus who’s now the head of Michigan Opera Theater, considers Cabaret 313’s mobility as vital to its grassroots effectiveness. “It’s symbolic of a number of new kinds of programs that I’m seeing in Detroit now,” he said. “Getting patrons out into various neighborhoods grows interest in the city, and it’s how we can add new energy to a community.”

Patrons become proponents of up-and-coming neighborhoods — just as visiting artists can turn into ambassadors for Detroit in the wider entertainment industry. Within the city itself, locals like Reitelman, Nachman and Brown have kept enthusiasm for the arts high.

“These days,” Nachman said, “to come and have an adventure in downtown Detroit is something people are clamoring for.”

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