5 Questions with John Flanagan, Communications Director, Burlington City Arts
By John Gales
Five Questions with John Flanagan, Communications Director, Burlington City Arts
1. John, you’re relatively new to the position. Give us a bit of your background and what excites you about Burlington City Arts.
I’m originally from Massachusetts but have lived in Vermont for over 15 years. I came up here to attend Saint Michael’s College, and later got my Master’s at UVM. Prior to taking on my role at BCA last September, I was the marketing manager at the Flynn Center. BCA has been a part of my life since I’ve been in college, from friends doing readings at the BCA Center when it was still the Firehouse Gallery, bands I’ve been in performing there, and my wife, Amy, teaching classes and camps when the studios were still at Memorial Auditorium. BCA’s energy is representative of Burlington’s energy: creatively driven forward momentum with a goal toward inclusivity and accessibility. I love that BCA gives local artists the space and knowledge to grow.
2. Coming on then of course challenged with Covid-19, what’s BCA doing to stay active, and still provide an art experience for the public?
It feels like we’ve been more active than ever, despite, and really because, of the lockdown. Even before we were all working from home, the staff came together to start thinking about how we could offer our programming remotely. For the past few months we’ve been constantly rethinking how we do our jobs, adapting and improvising while also helping the City with its needs. Our Home Studio platform hosts content we’ve been working on throughout the pandemic: artist studio tours, family art activities, artist demonstrations, artist highlights and talks, curator-guided virtual gallery tours, children’s art exhibitions, photo essays, and a lot more. Right away we launched an artist relief fund for Burlington artists affected by Covid-19-related cancellations and disruptions, and we continue to maintain a list of additional state and national artist relief resources. Lately it’s been fulfilling to reintroduce some of our regular in-person programming–slowly and safely.
3. What’s some of the things coming up with Summer and the rest of the year with BCA?
Right now, BCA is offering summer camps at BCA Studios, two new exhibitions are opening at the BCA Center on Church Street July 22, our Summer Concert Series is running in front of City Hall until the end of August, and our Summer Artist Market is running every Saturday on Pine Street until October 17. We’re watching the numbers constantly and carefully while working closely with health officials and the City to make sure all of our programing is as safe as possible. In the background, we’re preparing to stay nimble between virtual and physical programming.
4. BCA just moved into a beautiful new facility on Pine. Are you still on Church as well. What will we find at either location?
We were thrilled when the BCA Foundation closed on 405 Pine Street at the end of last year, and we can’t wait to get started on expanding the studios to accommodate as many artists and community members as possible. The BCA Center on Church Street is still the permanent home of our galleries, event spaces, and offices, while 405 Pine is the home of BCA Studios, where we host classes, camps, and open studio hours in just about every medium, from painting and silk screening to jewelry, pottery, traditional film and digital photography, and more. The impetus behind the purchase of 405 was demand: our classes and open studio hours have become so popular, particularly our clay studio, that purchasing and expanding the space became necessary to uphold our mission of accessibility to as many community members as possible.
5. Finally, how do you spend your off time in Burlington?
I live in Addison County, so I don’t hang out in the City like I used to, but when I have time to spare, I’m either getting caffeinated at Muddy Waters, flipping through the new arrivals at Crow Books, Burlington Records, and Pure Pop, grabbing a beer at Manhattan or Foam, and eating pizza at Pizzeria Verità or dumplings at Hong’s. I really miss catching shows at the Flynn, but look forward to doing so when we can all be safe and comfortable. When I can get out of the office for a walk, I usually head to the Lone Sailor statue near ECHO, which I didn’t know about until a few years ago. It’s a peaceful place to watch the lake and eat a club sandwich.