An invitation from the Flynn Executive Director Jay Wahl

Dear Vermont,

It’s time to come together for a conversation. In my three years at the Flynn, I’ve heard about many of the magical memories you and your children have made here since the organization was re-established in 1983: the student matinees, the concerts, the summer camps, and the chance to see artists of all kinds take our stages. We have long been a joyful and fundamental part of Vermont’s culture. I’ve also heard concerns and questions about programming choices, diversity, safety in Burlington, costs, parking, staffing changes, the jazz festival, and how people across the state can have meaningful opportunities to participate in our work. Now, after a pandemic which fundamentally altered our organizational makeup, I would like to invite you to join me in a discussion about our future. And when I say you, I really do mean you, who is taking an interest and the time to read this.

Join us for a conversation at the Flynn


Registration is requested but not required.

The arts in Vermont are at risk. There are growing barriers to access for all communities and our costs are rising while our revenues are not. Our need for deep and sincere empathy for each other and ourselves is urgent and generating empathy is the fundamental role of the arts. The Flynn must become more than just an historic venue in Downtown Burlington in order to take on these issues. But how? How can the state’s largest arts organization bridge geographic distances, economic disparity, demographic changes, and other social and civic challenges so that every Vermonter has opportunities to connect to their humanity through the arts? On January 27, 28, and 29, I would like to invite you to attend an Open Space meeting with me to begin to answer the question: What actions can the Flynn take now to have the greatest impact?

I’ve chosen an Open Space model because it has been used all over the world as a compelling way of turning energy into action. If you are unfamiliar with this process, it is an interactive and inclusive way of structuring a gathering that allows you, the participant, to set the agenda. Three days might seem like a long meeting, but we want to create enough space to get every issue and question on the table. All ideas receive as full a discussion as you choose to give them. We will work together to understand all of the critical questions facing the Flynn’s future so that we can set priorities for our actions over the next five years. What do you think we should be focusing on now? None of this can happen without an open, honest conversation that includes listening, curiosity, and kindness from each and every one of us.

I look forward to seeing you there,

Jay Wahl

Flynn Executive Director

Join the conversation


Registration is requested but not required.

JAN 27 

9 am-5:30 pm


JAN 28 

9 am-5:30 pm


JAN 29 

3 pm-7:30 pm


Breakfast, lunch, drinks, and snacks provided. We know they are long days, but we want to give the Flynn and your ideas the time and focus they deserve. All you need to bring is a passion for the Flynn and an open mind.

ASL interpreter provided


What is Open Space Technology?

Open Space is an interactive and inclusive way of structuring a meeting that allows you, the participant, to set the agenda. It is a very dynamic way of talking about complicated and difficult things. You will not be talked at or asked to talk about things you don’t want to. The Open Space Technology methodology is written in a book entitled Open Space Technology, A User’s Guide by Harrison Owen.

Why is the Flynn doing this? 

The Flynn is using Open Space Technology to begin its process of writing a new strategic plan.

How does the process work?

You show up at the Flynn at 9 am on Saturday, January 27. You grab a bagel, fruit, and coffee and sit in a chair in the circle. The facilitator, Seth Honnor, welcomes everyone and begins the Open Space process. He explains how the day will work and then you decide on the topics to discuss over the three days. You write the topics on the wall, which creates the schedule. When everyone has listed all their topics, you decide which topics you want to participate in and join those meetings at the times and locations over the three days.

Here is a fuller description of what to expect.

What will we talk about?

The central question we will focus on is: What actions can the Flynn do now to have the greatest impact? This Open Space meeting is the first step in creating the Flynn’s 5 year Strategic Plan. What do you think the Flynn should focus on? You’ll talk about the topics you decide to talk about. No topics are off limits.

I’m skeptical. Has this process been done before? 

Open Space Technology has been used all over the world as a way of turning energy into action. “The French corporation ACCOR, the largest hotel chain in the world, uses it to evolve a vision for the company and formulate business strategy. Owens Corning has used it to develop new products. DuPont has used it to reposition a dying product category. Township leaders in South Africa are using it to shape an ideal of the emerging country. It is being used in India and Venezuela, by giant multinationals and 22 tiny entrepreneurial ventures, by international organizations such as the World Bank and domestic agencies like the National Education Association and every time it is used, it leaves converts in its wake.”

Start reading on page 20 for stories and outcomes from organizations that used Open Space Technology, Tales from Open Space by Harrison Owen (editor).

I’m shy. Is it ok if I only come to listen? 

Yes, you can participate in whatever way feels right for you.

Do I get a copy of all the notes from the meetings? 

Yes. The notes will be on the Flynn's website and you’ll be able to access them there.

Will you keep me up to date on the process when it’s over?

Yes. The Flynn will take time to read over all your notes and decide on next steps based on those notes and communicate that out to everyone, including those next steps.

Is this the only meeting?

No, it’s the first step to talk about the Flynn and its future. We’ll decide the next step depending on the outcome of this Open Space meeting.

What if no one comes?

We want all voices from Vermont to be heard; yours is important. Please join.

Who is facilitating the meeting? 

Seth Honnor, artistic director and founder of Kaleider, is facilitating this Open Space meeting. Jay and the Flynn are a partner of a European Arts Network called In Situ, where Seth is an associate artist. They met seven years ago at a meeting in Belgium and have been working together since. Seth has made a career of making space for other people to have conversations, both through his arts practice and as a facilitator. Seth lives in the United Kingdom and has participated in many Open Space meetings.

Are Flynn staff leading any meetings? 

No. Flynn staff will be participating just like you, they have no special role.

Who is invited to attend? 

Everyone is invited.

May I invite people?

Yes, please share with everyone.

What’s the registration link?

Click this link to complete the registration form. 

Is registration required?

Registration requested but not required. If you register and change your mind, that’s fine, but please let us know so we don’t waste food.

Is it free? 

Yes, all three days are free.

Am I guaranteed admittance? 

Yes, we will make room for everyone.

When is it?

  • Saturday, January 27 from 9 am–5:30 pm 
  • Sunday, January 28 from 9 am–5:30 pm
  • Monday, January 29 from 3 pm–7:30 pm

Wow, those are long days. Why is a meeting so long?

We want to create enough space to get every issue and question on the table. All ideas will receive as full a discussion as you choose to give them and we will work together to understand all of the critical questions facing the Flynn’s future so that we can set priorities for our actions over the next five years.

Do I need to attend all three days? 

No, but it is important to attend the morning of the first day if possible. That is the time when the topics will be put on the table by you and others for discussion across the three days. If you miss that first morning, it will be more difficult to get caught up on the process. However, we want you to join so come when you can.

Can I leave early? 

Yes, you are not required to stay all day. 

Can I come and go throughout the day? 

Yes, you are not required to stay all day.

I can’t attend in-person. can I join the meetings online? 

No, Open Space Technology is an in-person process.

I can’t attend at all, may I send you my questions?

Yes, in the registration form for Open Spaces, there is a place for you to say you can’t attend and to send your questions. Please note that we are only able to review these questions after the meeting and we are not able to send you a direct response. However, they are useful to understand what topics are important to you.

Will I be photographed or recorded?

It is possible there will be a photographer on the first morning to capture some photos to show the process. There will be no video recording.

What do I need to prepare?

There is no formal preparation. You can think about topics you want to discuss around the central question: What actions can the Flynn take now to have the greatest impact? But you do not need to.

Is there food?

Yes, breakfast and lunch will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will be offered on Monday. 

May I bring my own food?

Yes, you are able to bring your own food. However, you will not have access to kitchen appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens, refrigerator, etc.

I have specific food restrictions, may I share them with you?

We are unable to accommodate specific requests. However, we will do our best to provide options for the most common restrictions. We encourage you to bring food for yourself if you are concerned.

May I bring my kids? 

Open Space process is conversation all day. You know your kids best. Will they be okay sitting in meetings? Are they old enough to attend a meeting without you?

Is there childcare?

We will not be providing childcare for the event. There is not a separate space for kids.

Will there be ASL interpretation?


Is the event pet friendly?

Only service animals are allowed in the Flynn. 

Where do I park?

Check out the Flynn’s website for directions and parking options.

  • Marketplace Garage (entrances at 147 Cherry St. and Bank St.)
  • College Street Garage (entrances at 60 College St. and Battery St.)
  • Lakeview Garage (41 Cherry St.)

Is there parking validated/reimbursed?

Unfortunately, we are unable to reimburse for parking.

What hotel should I stay at?

There are hotel options within walking distance to the Flynn:

I’m staying all three days, where should I eat in Burlington?

Check out Hello Burlington’s website for lots of food options.

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