Earlier this month I traveled to the Northeast Kingdom to attend the annual conference of the Vermont Downtown Program and The Preservation Trust of Vermont. The Flynn Center in Burlington was one of 10 awardees recognized by the Preservation Trust for recent renovations. The winners were a disparate, determined group, most taking decades to rehab, renovate and rebuild historically significant buildings.
Forty years ago, when the Flynn was still a movie house, a group of music theater folks approached the then owner of the theatre, Merrill Jarvis. These entrepreneurs knew the Flynn was built in 1930 as both a film and vaudeville palace and they wanted to put on a show. Backstage, behind the movie screen, there were inches of dust on the stage equipment that had not been used for decades.
There's a tradition in the Vermont House of Representatives for someone to speak briefly at the start of every session with a few inspirational words. Today I had that honor and shared some lessons I’ve learned - for legislators’ amusement, and I hoped, edification. First I explained I'm the owner of a Shetland pony that I’ve trained to pull me in a cart. She’s boarded with thirty-three other horses at a stable in Williston.
Recently I participated on two funding panels: the National Endowment for the Arts for theater projects and a California foundation for commissioning new music. Artistic excellence was a key criterion on both panels.
Defining quality used to be easy, although taste was always a mitigating factor. Now in our multicultural society, it is more complex. No longer can we calibrate merit solely through a Eurocentric framework.
Every summer, exuberance for the outdoors overtakes me. During the rest of the year, I’m an omnivore consuming performances, exhibitions, and movies in darkened spaces. Now I celebrate sun, sky, and even rain, with Vermont’s agricultural offerings.