Executive Director

Xavier Verna

photo by Crescent Rose Photography LLC

Executive Director, Xavier Verna, arrived at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts (RRCA) in 2017 after having served for five years as Director of Education for the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, MI. Xavier is also involved in state-wide efforts to support other Michigan arts and cultural organizations as a governor-appointed council member for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and serves as the President for the Michigan Presenters Network.

Xavier has transformed the performing arts programs at the Ramsdell by diversifying its content to reach broader audiences. He has expanded the RRCA’s programming and impact by partnering with institutions such as Interlochen Center for the Arts, Traverse City Opera House, West Shore Community College, and Shoreline Music Society. He also helped strengthen existing programs by securing funding to renovate Hardy Hall, the art gallery space. Xavier’s dynamic and innovative energy also brought new ideas to the table by introducing an escape room to its programming and attracting future audience members and donors. Xavier’s collaborative energy has increased partnerships within the community with area business leaders and corporations to support programming and operations at the RRCA.

At Sphinx, Xavier expanded its educational programming profile to a national level, which received one of the highest honors at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. He oversaw the development of local and national programming. In Detroit and Flint, Xavier worked with various partners and schools to provide after-school programming and live concert opportunities reaching over 1,000 students annually. He successfully led summer programs with major institutions such as Roosevelt University and Oberlin Conservatory to provide intensive chamber music training for young students ages 12-17. He also ran the National Sphinx Competition, inviting some of the most talented Black and Latino string musicians to compete for a top prize of $50,000 and worked with over 20 nationally recognized institutions to provide scholarships for further study.

A skilled and professional percussionist and educator, Xavier received his degrees from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance in Ann Arbor, MI. He’s been passionate about education from the start and worked in several cities such as Ann Arbor, MI, Toledo, OH, and Alexandra, VA, among others. He’s worked with several schools as a private teacher and as a Band and Drumline Director.

An accomplished musician, Xavier has performed nationally and internationally in a variety of ensembles. He’s appeared in PBS television broadcasts with the Sphinx Symphony, the unique all Black and Latino orchestra comprised of top professionals from around the country. Additionally, Rhyta Musik, an Eastern European brass band focused on educating and inspiring communities, has appeared on stages at ‘Ann Arbor Arts Festival,’ ‘Arts Beats, and Eats,’ and the international conference on diversity in the arts, ‘SphinxCon’. He is the co-founder of Identity Cubed, an exciting percussion trio based in Michigan.

He resides in Manistee County with his wife and her dog. In addition to the arts, Xavier is passionate about coffee, exercising, food, and enjoys travel.

Facilities and Operations Manager

Michael “Mik” Mikula

photo by Chris Wucherer

Prior to joining the RRCA, Mik had a long and successful career in the theatre. After moving away from Manistee 28 years ago, Mik studied at the Royal National Theater in London, England, and received his BFA in Theatre Arts, both in design and performance, from Stephens College for Women. He studied at the Royal Shakespeare Company with Antony Sher, Fiona Shaw, Richard Eyre, John Barton, Patrick Stewart, Janet McTyre, and others. Mik also served as Technical Director for the Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota. After returning to Michigan, Mik worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and as Director of Theatre at West Shore Community College.

Mik has been a professional theatre artist for more than 25 years, throughout the United States, primarily Midwest. He is a director, has worked in education, repertory summer theatre, all aspects of technical theatre, touring management, fundraising, grant writing, film television, voice-over, print, industrials, and others. He is versed in all areas of technical theatre including design, technical direction, production management, lighting design and master electrician, sound design and technician, prop master and design, stage management, special effects, and construction.

He has worked in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul for more than 20 years, working on over 50 professional productions at that time. For 7 years Mik worked for Troupe America as Company Manager, Production Manager and Technical Director for the four of the five different Church Basement Ladies National Tours, having logged more than 200,000 miles touring,  in more than 250 different venues, and as Technical Director for the Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota.  In addition, Mik has been a director for the Lakeshore Players Summer Youth Program, for 10 years. He has worked as an improvisational actor for Who-Done-It, and also works as a director and theatre technician, in addition to working in film, television, industrials, print, and voice-overs.