by John R. Killacky, Executive Director
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on our past season and thank you once again for your support. There was much joy and laughter in our theaters and gallery, as well as politically-charged work that generated post-concert discussions. I love the discourse artists engender.
It was as gratifying to me to watch FlynnArts students blossom in Show Choir and the musicals we produce. And when the yellow buses arrived at our front door on Main Street for our student matinees, I zipped downstairs to watch the little ones experience live theater. I was once one of those kids, and am proof that theater can change one’s life.
We finished up the third phase of structural renovations, opening our new box office that faces Main Street; replacing the sidewalk under the marquee; and expanding the downstairs men’s room and FlynnSpace artist dressing room. All that’s left is replacing the main curtain in the large theater, which happens this summer.
Financially, we end the season with a balanced budget thanks to your membership support and participation in our Garden Tour, Neko Case benefit, Chinese New Year celebration, ticket raffle, online auction, and Burlington Discover Jazz Events—all to support educational and cultural programs.
In September, I’m asking you to rappel down nine stories of the Courtyard Marriott Harbor Hotel in our Over the Edge experiential fundraiser—fun and challenging, and it all supports the Flynn’s vitality. Hope you can join us, or better yet, put a team together.
It takes a village to run the Flynn with our 34 full-time staff, but when we factor in box office and stage crew, we employ 221 folks. Rather than share only my highlights of the season, I asked some team members to share their mission moments (listed below).
In a few weeks, we announce the new season that begins in September. I look forward to greeting you in the lobby and, as always, welcome your comments. The Flynn would not—and cannot—exist without your support. I’m grateful to you for your ongoing generosity and belief in the Flynn.
Camille A. Brown & Dancers
“Both Camille A. Brown’s performance and the Q&A that followed were thought-provoking. During the Q&A, a white woman bravely stepped up to the mic to reflect on a piece titled Black Girl, and began to question how it related to her. This was followed by a black female audience member reflecting on a part of the same piece that dealt with African American hair. Then, in a bold gesture, she began to unwrap her hair, allowing it to flow freely as the rest of the audience cheered her on.” —Nadia Mitchell, Event & Contract Manager
“As a big fan of Ira Glass on the radio, it was a real thrill to see him venture into the artistic expression offered by dance, and I loved watching him glide across our stage. What a wonderful project—giving voice to what is usually a wordless art form, and creating an artful and visual interpretation and motion to content that is usually related just by voice and sound, thus deepening the understanding and enjoyment of both mediums.” —Leeeza Robbins, Assistant Box Office Manager
“The teen energy at Vermont Young Playwrights Festival was exciting to be around. I was so impressed by the quality of the plays the students wrote and the performances. The subject matter of the plays was very intense at times and made me cry, and other times hilarious. Who knows how many kids have been inspired by participating in this program so they might one day become a famous playwright or actor?” —Amie Paquette, Senior Accountant
Vermont Young Playwrights Festival
“The Vermont Young Playwrights Festival. I was moved to chills watching Molly Parker—not an actress—navigate and control her own anger and frustration as she played herself, a deaf girl begging to be understood, in Max Chlumecky’s play that he wrote for her, his best friend.” —Suzanne Lowell Marchelewicz, FlynnArts Manager
“Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature. It’s always exciting to have a premier artist performing on our stage, in the end, we were able to negotiate solutions to their requests, deliver a memorable performance to the audience, and send the artist and her staff away with ‘miles of smiles.’” —Gary Lemieux, Director of Production
“It was wonderful to see students from Vermont Ballet Theater get to meet one of the premier dancers of our time, Wendy Whelan, in the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery after her performance. The joy on their faces lasts with me to this day.” —Brennan Neill, Membership & Special Events Manager
“Working with curator Bill Ellis on Larry Bissonnette’s show was a great learning experience for me. The greatest moment happened when Larry showed up during the hanging. His excitement at seeing all the selected paintings—some already on the walls—was a true mission moment for me. My heart was close to bursting!” —Nancy Abbott-Hourigan, Gallery Manager
“Vermont Stage Company’s production of The Mountaintop was a highlight. The power of the script and the larger-than-life acting, as well as VSC’s lighting, sonic, and scenic elements, combined for a very moving experience from which many members of the audience left teary-eyed.” —Brian Johnson, FlynnSpace Manager
“At the Nile Project student matinee, I watched 1,000 children dancing, singing, waving their hands, and swaying to the music like they were at a rock concert. The energy and joy was just amazing.” —Gina Haddock, Director of Development
“The Nile Project. We worked with multiple regional partners over two-plus years to put the tour together, including UVM and Middlebury. The show also hewed to our desire not to tell ‘one story’ about other nations, as the show was specific and nuanced in its representation of many African countries. It was a tremendous performance, but it was only part of a larger work that reached into and touched many different communities, providing illumination and understanding, as well as entertainment.” —Steve MacQueen, Artistic Director
Martha Graham Dance Company
“Martha Graham Dance Company was a joy for all involved. As soon as the company arrived, Senior Artistic Associate Denise Val, led a masterclass at Spotlight Vermont for 35 dancers ages 16 to adult. The dancers were pushed beyond their comfort zone but they were laughing and smiling the entire class.” —Madeline Bell, Programming Manager
“Wayne Shorter Quartet put on a killer performance at Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. The best anyone could hope for, anywhere around the globe.” —Grant Orenstein, Technical Director
“Two things I overheard during Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in FlynnSpace: ‘Wow! Great set-up for jazz. It’s so open.’ And ‘It’s nice to get to be so close to the performers.’” —Stefan Jacobs, FlynnSpace Manager
“My husband, Charlie, was working as a spirit for the MainStage show with Chris Botti. He said it was the best he’d ever seen. Standing ovation for the jazz organizers!” —Liz Weiss, Accounting Clerk
“I had the unfortunate job of telling a woman who had lost her wallet that it had not been turned in. Amazingly, even though she is now without her money, credit cards and ID, she was so thrilled by the performance she saw at the Jazz Festival that she had nothing but praise to give! There is nothing better than hearing how happy our presentations make people feel.” —Cherie Marshall, Office Administrator/Concessions Manager
“One lovely woman chose the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival as the perfect setting for her 80th birthday. Along with a group of her closest friends, she enjoyed the live music on Church Street while dining outdoors, followed by an evening at the Flynn. She told one of the festival staffers, ‘I’ve just always loved the jazz festival and this was what I wanted to do today.’” —Chelsea Lafayette, Marketing and Development Manager
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
“I made my way to the front during the encore at the Robert Randolph and The Family Band show at the Waterfront Tent for the jazz festival, and was mesmerized by the energy and talent of the performers. I instinctively grabbed my phone to capture the moment. It wasn’t focusing properly and after several frustrating minutes, I put it away. Why was I wasting my time trying to record something if it meant missing the experience of the moment itself? There are so many ways to see and hear performing arts with today’s technology. But none provide that challenge as much as live performance—when the experience is happening only now and it can never be truly captured.” —Odele Peter, Development Database Manager/Application Specialist
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
“We received the following from a parent who attended the autism-friendly performance of Schoolhouse Rock Live!: ‘If there were more supports and accommodations like these in other public venues, my child and family would be much more integrated into our community. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for an afternoon where my child was safe and supported, where his needs were not seen as exceptional or inconvenient.’” —Kat Redniss, Student Matinee Series Manager
“The Schoolhouse Rock Live! show was a wonderful collaboration of community, staff, and families coming together for a joint experience.” —Carol Goodrum, Finance and Front of House Manager
“I’m thrilled with the collaborative efforts our staff, volunteers, and community have put into breaking down barriers of access to individuals with disabilities, and making the experience at the Flynn more comfortable for all.” —Gail Clook, Box Office Supervisor
“On the day I interviewed with the Flynn, Harold and the Purple Crayon was showing as part of the student matinee series. The students were audibly enjoying themselves, oohing and aahing, and the excitement was contagious.” —Sarah Venuti Yates, Director of Human Resources
“As I watched Integrated Arts Academy and Sustainability Academy kids walk down Church Street to the Flynn on their ‘first magnet class to graduate’ celebration walk, cheering and grinning wildly, I was filled with gratitude. My daughter is lucky enough to attend IAA. Her experience learning through the lens of the arts has been incredible—she is engaged and excited to be there, she speaks with pride when she talks about where she ‘gets’ to go to school, she is articulate when she describes the artists and ideas they are exploring, and her learning follows her home where her play continues to meld the arts she loves with the math, science, nature, and literature ideas she is exposed to and has truly learned about.” —Tracey Gilbert Dengler, Marketing Production Manager
Flynn Show Choir
“The email was a moving one for me, from a 10 year old’s mom: ‘What an amazing, once in a lifetime experience those kids had (on the Show Choir trip to NYC.) The only way Avery was able to go was to spend money he has saved from every Christmas and birthday for his whole life. It was a huge decision for him, and he says it was the best money he ever spent. Perhaps best of all was what he took away from seeing his friend perform on the Broadway stage. He told me, ‘When Oscar was singing in Fun Home, you know what I was thinking the whole time? I could do that!'” —Christina Weakland, Director of Education
“The FlynnArts programs have been an integral part of my performing career and I would be nowhere without them. We were glad to be able to give back in some way—and especially in the form of scholarship fundraising—with our performance of 35mm: A Musical Exhibition. Without the summer show and Show Choir scholarships, many of us would not have been able to participate and would have missed out on invaluable learning and friendships.” —Cassidy Thompson, FlynnArts alumni and 35mm director
Finally, a note that Facilities Director Jack Galt received after taking students on a tour of the Flynn: