Andrea Rogers – Taking a Well-Deserved Bow
“You can see that getting out of here is going to be wild!” chuckles Andrea Rogers ruefully, gesturing around her small office before starting to dig through one of many brimming boxes on the floor – still there from their last move, nearly 10 years ago. Nonetheless, Rogers quickly emerges from the clutter, triumphant, handing over the item she was searching for – a copy of the first annual report of the Flynn Theatre, from 1982. The contents of that report detailed the status of a fledgling performing arts space. It would hardly be recognizable in today’s annual report, which would outline the enviable health of a renowned multi-use cultural center with an annual operating budget of approximately $6 million, an organization that has indelibly transformed the landscape of downtown Burlington.
This transformation has been accomplished under the leadership of only one executive director: Rogers. So while it may prove to be “wild” for Rogers to extricate herself from the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts upon her retirement at age 70 in June, it is wildly difficult for almost everybody else to imagine the organization without her in the lead. The name Andrea Rogers is simply synonymous with the institution. But she believes it’s the right time to exit. “We’ve got a great staff and that’s partly why I wanted to leave now,” she says of her decision to finally retire. Rogers chatted with us in her Burlington office on a bright and sunny winter day, with City Hall Park visible from her window.
However, the conversation really started last fall. In the Flynn lobby following a frenetic comedy show by Paula Poundstone in October, a buoyant Rogers circulated among the crowd. It was just days after her public announcement that she would be retiring in June – shocking news to some, but a decision that had been nearly a year in the making and was known to the Flynn’s board and senior staff. So it may have been the relief of being unburdened of her secret that showed in Rogers’ beaming face. Prompted by Vermont Woman’s Sue Gillis, she laughingly recalled funny moments of her tenure as well as some of the extraordinary performers she has witnessed on the Flynn stage over the years, legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Miles Davis. From her recitation, it was clear that Burlington had become a regular stop on the tour routes of established international stars and avant-garde artists alike.
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