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Flynn Theater
In 1992 the Flynn Theater for the Performing Arts needed to retire the debt on its home – in this case, an historic building in Burlington, Vermont – and it had in mind a small capital campaign.

The situation was one that WolfBrown consultants see often: a focus on immediate needs was overshadowing a greater need to do comprehensive planning. Only two years before, the Flynn had conducted a successful capital campaign; its supporters might thus wonder why it was coming back so soon with out-stretched palms. If another campaign was to be successful coming so soon on the heels of a previous one, it would be important to guarantee donors that such a campaign would truly fulfill the theater's long-term needs and have a major impact on its future as an institution. The consultant recommended that the Theater take a wider — and longer — look at its needs through a strategic planning process that would bring the Burlington community “on board.”

The process that ensued under the consultant's guidance involved every segment of the community and resulted in a ten-year plan offering a new vision for the organization. Instead of remaining a single theater, the Flynn would become a performing arts center with a combined capital and endowment budget of $10 million. The consultants then tested the plan's fund-raising feasibility and determined that it would be possible to raise $4.5 million in the first five years, enough to eliminate all debt, create both an endowment and a cash reserve, purchase two adjoining properties, and restore, upgrade, and equip the historic building. Under the consultant's direct supervision, the Theater went on to raise the funds and implement the plan.

As a result of coming to WolfBrown, the Theater not only retired its debts – it transformed itself. Prior to finishing the planned construction, the Theater started an additional phase of the campaign in order to expand even further than anticipated. This additional phase was successfully completed in early 2000. The total amount raised in the two phases was $8.7 million. The success of its strategic plan was evidenced by two grants (of more than $1 million each) to support increased programming within the expanded facility from the Doris Duke Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Go to www.flynntheatre.org