Flux Pre-Retreat Meeting; or, of Budgets and Strategies

(Photo by Kia Rogers. Pictured in full human form: Kelly O’Donnell, August Schulenburg, Chinaza Uche. Pictured in small yet present digital form: Heather Cohn, Sol Crespo, Rachael Hip-Flores, Becky Byers, Will Lowry, Alisha Spielmann, Isaiah Tanenbaum. Post by August Schulenburg.)

Kia’s picture above does a pretty good job of illustrating how our meetings have changed since we all became cyborgs and scattered to far coasts and deep souths: four of us in-person, seven of us online, but all present for the first of our Pre-Retreat Meetings.

Every year, Flux spends a week at the beautiful Little Pond Arts Retreat in Nazareth, PA for strategic planning, play development and communal renewal (aka, staying up way too late gaming and frolicking). Every year, we attempt with varying degrees of success to share some of the magic that happens there. This year, it feels particularly important, in part because this last Retreat was a breakthrough for us on so many levels. While our annual strategic plans usually wither on the vine of our busy schedules, this year we made significant progress on all three:

  • Community partnerships: We wanted to develop at least one significant community partnership, and our relationship with Judson Memorial Church and New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC on our Breathe Free project has exceeded our expectations. We were also extremely fortunate this year to launch our residency with The Loisaida Center, a relationship we intend to continue.
  • Audience growth: We knew we wanted to significantly shift our marketing relationship with our current and future audiences, and from our 2014 Retreat work, the Living Ticket and Open Book programs were born. Their debut with our production of Salvage was mostly successful, and we intend to continue refining these programs.
  • Mission/Vision/Values: Our Core Values and Mission Statement have long needed an update, and we’ve been working on a Vision Statement over the past several Retreats. While this third piece for our strategic plan was the least developed over the course of the year, our (still embryonic) Open Source Theatre moved the ball a good distance down the field, and will be a significant focus at Little Pond this Retreat.

To take stock of this progress and plot our way forward, we realized we needed some extra time before the Retreat, especially as not all 11 Creative Partners are able to attend this year. To that end, we met to discuss the above, as well as review our new internal budgeting process (which will be more transparent and participatory)  and discuss the possibility of asking new Creative Partners to join Flux (we need more time for this discussion, as it requires consensus from all 11 current CPs!).

Some questions we’re taking from the meeting into the Retreat:

  • How will the Living Ticket donations affect giving levels for our Annual Appeal?
  • How do we advance our goals of ensemble pay equity when we have both greater financial resources and more complexity in terms of hours people are working? Is equal pay always fair pay?
  • How will agents, unions and other bargaining organizations engage with our Open Book values and processes?
  • How can we message the Living Ticket more quickly, simply and effectively?
  • Is “Open Source Theatre” the right language, or is there something more Fluxy we should develop for those programs?
  • Should we prioritize clarifying the messaging of the Open Source Theatre programming we’re already doing, or focus on building out new programs like Open Stage?
  • How public do we make our annual budget items through Open Book? What, if anything, should remain private for the Flux Board and Creative Partners?

Oh, hey, did you really read all the way to the end of this post? To thank you, please accept this Bitmoji high-five, which is the customary salutation of our people:


We’ll (hopefully) be sharing more of our Retreat progress as we go–stay tuned, dear reader!

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