Today is Andrea Rogers' last day as the Executive Director of Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Rogers' friends and fans organized a community celebration in her honor last Saturday. Nearly 1500 people attended "Exit Laughing: A Community Celebration in Honor of Andrea Rogers." Local actors, dancers, singers and musicians all paid tribute to the woman who's raised millions to restore the Flynn, and to make it into the area's premier performing arts venue.
I don't know Rogers well — we've met a couple times — but I'm familiar with her reputation as a force of nature. Seven Days publisher and co-editor Paula Routly worked for her in the 1980s. Paula wrote about her first-hand experience with Rogers in a story that appeared in September, after Rogers announced her plan to retire ("Bowing Out: Flynn founder and executive director Andrea Rogers plans her exit"). Paula often invokes Rogers' name when describing the single-minded dedication one needs to demonstrate in order to run any successful enterprise.
Rogers herself summed it up pretty well in Paula's story:
“You have to be constantly awake. You have to be constantly thinking.You have to know that all your relationships are somehow connected,”Rogers offers. “You’re always selling the organization, in a good way.I read the paper, and I cut something out. I think, Oh, we should be doing that, or Let’s make this connection or call so and so. It’s just constant, and it’s exciting.”
You know what else is exciting? Showing up at the Flynn for a sold-out nighttime show, seeing the marquee lit up, feeling like this is a livelier little town than it has any right to be. So thanks, Andrea.
If you missed Saturday's soiree, as I did, check out this slideshow of photos on YouTube, courtesy of Burlington's favorite prolific community shutterbug, Stephen Mease.