Newly Established Chautauqua Literary Arts Chair Honors Entertainment Lawyer, Chautauquan Michael I. Rudell
CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — With programs that date back nearly to the founding of Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua’s Literary Arts program will be sustained in part over the next five years by its first endowed chair.
The Michael I. Rudell Director of the Literary Arts is an endowed chair established in memory of a beloved Chautauquan who, among other things, inspired Chautauqua’s first literary award, The Chautauqua Prize, which annually celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The endowment will support the leadership of the Director of the Literary Arts and will place Rudell’s name at the center of the Institution’s vast literary arts program and legacy. The chair designation is in effect for a term of five years while the Institution works to raise adequate funds to meet the requirements of a permanent chair endowment in his honor.
“Michael Rudell was a person of extraordinary character and intellect, and his commitment to authors and readers was widely known and highly respected,” said Chautauqua President Michael E. Hill. “We are honored to have his name on our Literary Arts Chair and will work to ensure that in perpetuity so that generations to come will know of this special man’s commitment, passion and accomplishments.”
Rudell had a celebrated career that spanned more than five decades before his untimely death in January of this year at age 77. He was a prominent entertainment industry attorney who was involved in all aspects of entertainment law, from film and television to book publishing. He represented numerous well-known authors in their book, television and film deals.
In addition to practicing law, Rudell wrote the monthly entertainment law column in the New York Law Journal for more than 40 years (as a co-author with Neil Rosini of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo since 2005), and he was also chairman of the Entertainment Committee of the American Bar Association and recipient of its Edward Rubin Service Award. He annually attended Chautauqua and was deeply enthusiastic about the Prize that he helped to found and continued to support.
Rudell was recently recognized by author John Grisham, who dedicated his latest novel Sooley to him: “Not only the finest lawyer I’ve ever known, but a perfect gentleman and loyal friend.”
Author Dan Brown said of his friend, “A mentor and dear friend, Michael possessed a remarkable intellect and was truly exceptional at his craft. I will remember him most, however, for his profound kindness and compassion.”
Hill added, “In addition to all of his professional and philanthropic contributions from him and his wife, Alice, Mike was a dear friend and confidant. It is only fitting after all he has done to celebrate the literary arts at Chautauqua that his name will live on in this special way.”
Under the leadership of current director Sony Ton-Aime, Chautauqua has expanded the Chautauqua Writers’ Center from one-week workshops on the Institution grounds to year-round workshops available through Chautauqua’s online classroom, learn.chq.org, which is part of the CHQ Assembly digital collective. Leveraging virtual platforms and forging strategic partnerships with literary arts organizations, Chautauqua has affirmed the historic Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) as a year-round global conversation among readers, including the CLSC Young Readers program for readers ages 9–14. Further celebrating young readers, the Institution holds an annual Battle of the Books in its 4,000-seat Amphitheater to host teams of 5th graders from Chautauqua County middle schools. Chautauqua’s other annual literary award, the Chautauqua Janus Prize, celebrates experimental writers who have not yet published a book. Taken together, these prizes ensure that both tradition and innovation live at the heart of a Chautauqua reader’s life of learning.
Chautauqua Literary Arts is also at the center of the Institution’s newest partnership with Chautauqua’s African American Heritage House to convene monthly reading circles that, in open and welcoming conversations, discuss books about diversity, race relations, and/or the state of society.
Anyone interested in contributing toward the Michael I. Rudell Director of the Literary Arts permanent endowed chair should contact Geof Follansbee, senior vice president and chief advancement officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION
Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer — and year-round through the CHQ Assembly online platforms — with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.
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