What all does the Old U.S. Mint’s third-floor Performing Arts Center encompass?
We do a lot of music. We have a partnership with the National Park Service, which does a lot of programming in the daytime. The state museum does quite a bit of programming during the evening. On Fridays, we have our residency program, which is as many Fridays in a row as we can get of an artist, and we ask them to do a different program each week. It’s been very successful.
The facility opened in 2012 at a cost of around $4 million. What did that money pay for?
About two-thirds of that is the build-out of the space on the third floor and structurally fixing the space so it could house what was needed in the proper way. So, we obviously have this wonderful performance space on the third floor. But we also have this control room, which has full Pro Tools set up, with two-camera video shoot. We web stream every program; we record every program; we archive every program. A lot went into in the acoustic design and materials. Brazilian cherry on the floors, American cherry on the walls. Really nice, sound-absorbing walls.
In your opinion, what distinguishes this venue?
The fact that it is just a listening room. It’s not a bar. It’s not a nightclub. It’s a museum space. Its main function is to have a space that is for the music that is from this town. We do have some national acts. But the music that comes through here, it’s homegrown.
Is there a particular concert or recording you’re most proud of?
We did an Allen Toussaint holiday show  that was fantastic. He was booked to play 90 minutes, but wound up playing two-and-a-half hours. I think he enjoyed having a hometown audience. He was asking for requests and getting songs that only people from New Orleans would request.
We had Frank Black [the Pixies frontman] here. A solo show, just him and his guitar. 200 or so people here. It was a blast. Something we don’t normally do—a rock show.
What do you hope visitors to the admission-free Mint experience during their visit?
I would hope that they catch a really great jazz show up on the third-floor venue. And also get a real good sense of where the music came from.