News & Announcements

Chautauqua Arts Education Receives Kennedy Center Contract for School Residencies Program

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has awarded a contract to Chautauqua Arts Education to continue Chautauqua Institution’s school residencies program, providing nearly $18,000 in support of the Institution’s work in Chautauqua County for students with disabilities.

These programs began in 2014, providing residencies at area BOCES Educational Centers, and have grown to provide eight residencies in 2019–20, including at LoGuidice, Hewes and Chautauqua Lake BOCES educational centers, Chautauqua Lake Central School, Southwestern Central School District, Love Elementary and Washington Middle schools in the Jamestown Public Schools, and Little Seeds Pre-School in Jamestown.

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Four Join Board of Trustees; New Leadership Assumes Office

Chautauqua Institution’s Board of Trustees elected Izumi Hara, Terrance N. Horner Jr., Sarah Hagen McWilliams and Richard R. Wade to four-year terms of service at the body’s final meeting of the 2019 season on Aug. 24. The new class officially begins their terms today, Tuesday, Oct. 1, along with newly elected chair Candace (Candy) Littell Maxwell, whose appointment was approved at the board’s May 4 meeting, and Marnette Perry, who was elected as vice chair at the August meeting.

“As I begin my first term as chair, it is an honor to welcome these brilliant new voices to our trustee table, and to build on the remarkable work and devoted service of those colleagues who have come before us,” Maxwell said. “I’m excited to welcome four individuals as accomplished and credentialed as Izumi, Terry, Sarah and Dick to help Chautauqua realize the promise of opportunities outlined in our new strategic plan.”

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Chautauqua Welcomes Fall with October Festival, Oct. 4–5

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Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce it will host a special October Festival on Oct. 4 and 5, 2019, featuring Oktoberfest-inspired events and activities to celebrate the beginning of fall on its picturesque lakeside grounds. Festivities will include German-style food, hay rides, axe throwing and other seasonal activities, and there is no charge for admission or parking. A special package is available at the Athenaeum Hotel for guests who wish to stay the full weekend, through Sunday morning.

The Chautauqua October Festival kicks off on Friday, Oct. 4, with a three-course German-inspired tasting menu at the Athenaeum Hotel. The hotel’s lounge will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight, and entertainment before and after dinner will be provided by The Shotskis, a five-piece ensemble that plays German classics and party songs, from 4 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Reservations for Friday’s dinner can be made at fall.chq.org.

Then, from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, the festivities move to Bestor Plaza, Chautauqua’s town square. Alongside German-style food, drinks and adult beverages at the Brick Walk Cafe, a mix of family-friendly and adult-oriented activities will include hay rides, bobbing for apples, a bounce house, pumpkin painting, and axe throwing by AXEWAGON. See fall.chq.org for a full list. Fees apply for food and drinks and for some activities.

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Chautauqua Community Mourns Passing of Jared Jacobsen

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Dear Friends of Chautauqua Institution:

We learned yesterday of the tragic passing of our beloved Jared Jacobsen, Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music for nearly 25 years, and someone who proudly proclaimed himself a lifelong Chautauquan. Jared was involved in a car accident in Geneva, Ohio.

While we await formal word of Jared’s wishes, we know our community is grieving this unspeakable loss. Many have described Jared and the music he masterfully created with the iconic Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Amphitheater as the “heart and soul” of Chautauqua. This sentiment speaks not only to Jared’s talent, but of his ever-presence during our summer assembly season, his untiring love for music, and his generous willingness to share his passions with Chautauquans across generations. His music ushered in each day, heralded the noontime and afternoon hours, and closed each Sunday evening of the summer assembly, keeping the time of a timeless community.

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Three Taps of the Gavel Address: ‘Camp Meeting Commences’

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Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed Chautauquans gathered for the season's final Sacred Song Service with the traditional Three Taps of the Gavel Address to close the 2019 Chautauqua Assembly on Sunday. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below. (Photo by Dave Munch, Chautauqua Institution multimedia producer)


“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
—T.S. Eliot

Our organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, Jared Jacobsen, has dubbed this evening “Camp Meeting is Over” and The Chautauquan Daily headline reminded me that my job tonight is to declare that this is so. This final Sacred Song Service each summer season lends itself well to this narrative. The day’s sun has slipped beneath the horizon, hints of autumn can be felt in the air, and our beloved Amphitheater is far too empty. The Saturday crowds have left the grounds and a new group has not come to take up residence on “change over day.” And the likelihood that a gentle bark from one of our furry puppy Chautauquans will puncture the proceedings is far less than it was just a few nights ago.

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Chautauqua Institution Plans Post-Season Programs

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Consistent with aspirations outlined in Chautauqua Institution’s new strategic plan, 150 Forward, officials have announced plans for Fall 2019 programs that expand upon the Institution’s normal fall and winter activities and offerings.

From the close of the summer assembly on Sunday, Aug. 25, through the month of October (potentially as long as Nov. 15, weather permitting), the Athenaeum Hotel will remain open and available for daily, weekly or extended bookings, offering breakfast for overnight guests. The Athenaeum’s Lobby Lounge will also be open noon to 8 p.m. daily, offering club sandwiches, burgers, soup, salad, appetizers and beverages. The Brick Walk Cafe will be open weekends 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Coffee Gazebo open 7 a.m. to noon. Daily breakfast and lunch service at the Afterwords Café will continue throughout the fall, winter and spring months.

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Atom Atkinson to Step Down as Director of Literary Arts

Chautauqua Literary Arts Director Atom Atkinson has announced their resignation effective Aug. 30 to take on a new professional opportunity at Catapult, a New York City-based literary arts organization with an educational mission.

Atkinson has served as Director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua since 2017. Their focus has been to build on the Institution’s literary legacy by aligning programs and services around Chautauqua’s mission and convening authority, inviting a diverse range of authors and educators and pursuing partnerships to further enliven and elevate the experience of learning through reading and writing for participants of all ages and experience.

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Chautauqua Institution Inaugurates the Leon and Gloria Plevin Family Museum Lecture Series

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Chautauqua Institution this week launches a new endowed lecture series with a presentation by Jill Snyder, Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa Cleveland), at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 28, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution. This event is free and open to the public. 

The Leon and Gloria Plevin Family Museum Director Lecture Series was established to present the unique personal and professional perspectives of institutional leaders from around the country by examining the innovations, challenges, and changing landscapes of museums today. This new endowment for the visual arts was established in honor of the late Leon Plevin, Gloria Plevin’s husband, who was an advocate and supporter of visual arts, especially at Chautauqua and in Cleveland, where Gloria and her family spent most of their lives.    

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President Michael E. Hill Opens 146th Chautauqua Assembly with ‘Three Taps’ Address

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Following an introduction to Chautauqua Institution’s new strategic plan, 150 Forward, President Michael E. Hill on Sunday morning tapped a historic gavel three times to officially open the Institution’s 146th Assembly. Hill’s “Three Taps” address, marking the traditional and formal start to a Chautauqua season, was titled “Walking the Tightrope Between History and Innovation,” and gave Chautauqua community members gathered a synopsis of the recently approved strategic plan, including a strong rebuke of hatred and bigotry. The remarks preceded the Institution’s popular Sunday worship service, which this particular morning featured a historic twist — for the first time at Chautauqua, the sermon was delivered by a rabbi chaplain in residence, Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior and founding rabbi of IKAR in Los Angeles.

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Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2017 New Play Workshop ‘Birthday Candles’ Goes to Broadway

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Will Star Debra Messing and be Directed by Former CTC Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch

Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, is pleased to announce that its 2017 New Play Workshop Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle will be opening on Broadway in 2019–2020 season. Former CTC artistic director Vivienne Benesch will direct the Broadway premiere at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and the production will star Debra Messing, best known for her lead role in the NBC television series "Will & Grace."

Birthday Candles was originally commissioned by Detroit Public Theater (DPT) in the fall of 2016. In the summer of 2017, it received a workshop production at CTC, directed by Benesch. Benesch followed the production to DPT where it received a world premiere in May 2018. This is the first time DPT and CTC have partnered in this way: from DPT’s commission, to CTC’s workshop performance and back to DPT’s world premiere.

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Anjali Sachdeva's "All the Names They Used for God" Wins 2019 Chautauqua Prize

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Author Will Give Public Reading at Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 16

Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce Anjali Sachdeva’s All the Names They Used for God: Stories (Spiegel & Grau) as the 2019 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Sachdeva receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a summer residency at Chautauqua from Aug. 12 to 16, 2019. A public reading will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, in the Hall of Philosophy on the Institution’s grounds. 

Sachdeva said she was “incredibly grateful for all Chautauqua Institution has done to celebrate the arts and their potential to enrich our lives. To me, the Prize represents not only an amazing honor, but key support that will help me to continue writing.” 

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Pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk to Replace Daniil Trifonov for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra June 27 Concert

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Performance Opens 90th Anniversary Season, 2019 Russian Festival

Chautauqua Institution today announced that celebrated pianist Daniil Trifonov will be unable to join the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for its Opening Night performance on June 27, 2019.

A representative for Trifonov shared the following statement:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Daniil Trifonov is unable to leave Europe as planned to fulfill his commitment to Chautauqua. He withdraws with sadness because he has really looked forward to making music in such a special and beautiful place. He looks forward to a return engagement in the near future.

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Chautauqua Board Elects Candace Littell Maxwell as Chair

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Term begins Oct. 1; Decision marks first time a woman will serve as chair 

At its quarterly business meeting today, the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees elected as its next Chair Candace (Candy) Littell Maxwell of Wilmington, Delaware. Maxwell is a retired strategic advisor with more than 30 years of diverse experience in business leadership, governance, policy, and strategy. In October 2018, she completed eight years of service on the Institution’s Board of Trustees, during which time she served on the Board’s Special Committee on Amphitheater-Related Issues, on the Presidential Search Committee, and as Chair of the Audit Committee, as well as other committees and working groups.

“Candy is viewed not only as having significant experience on Chautauqua’s Board, but as someone whose Board service and professional career are marked by a spirit of collaboration that is grounded in a strong background in finance, business, leadership, and strategy,” said James Pardo, current Chair of the Board of Trustees. Pardo’s term as Chair will conclude October 1 when Maxwell’s term begins.

Most recently, Maxwell served as a member of the Board’s Strategic Planning Working Group, a team composed of volunteer leaders and executive staff who worked for more than a year to lead the process that resulted in the formulation of the next strategic plan for Chautauqua Institution (click here to read a separate announcement about 150 Forward).

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Chautauqua Trustees Approve Strategic Plan

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150 Forward to be made public in June, calls for bold new response 

At its quarterly business meeting today, the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees approved a new strategic plan for the Institution titled 150 Forward. The plan was developed over the past year and a half following wide community consultation, market research, and externally advised analysis. The plan will guide strategic decision making over the next 10 years, leading up to the Institution’s 150th anniversary in 2024 and beyond.

Framed within the context of Chautauqua’s mission to “… explore the best in human values and the enrichment of life …,” the plan for the first time names values that guide the organization and an overarching goal that frames the 10-year key objectives of the plan as follows:

  1. Optimize the summer assembly season on the Chautauqua Grounds to provide a first-class experience around the arts, education, religion, and recreation;
  2. Expand Chautauqua’s convening authority year round to broaden its impact beyond the summer assembly season;
  3. Drive the implementation of a comprehensive, science-based approach to improving the health and sustainability of Chautauqua Lake and elevate its conservation as the centerpiece of the region’s economic prosperity; and
  4. Grow and diversify revenue to address critical needs, increase financial resiliency, and fund Chautauqua’s future.
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Seven Finalists Named for 2019 Chautauqua Prize

Stack of 2019 Chautauqua Prize finalists

Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce seven exceptional books as the 2019 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its eighth year:

  • Little, by Edward Carey (Riverhead Books)
  • The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth, by Ken Krimstein (Bloomsbury)
  • Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon (Scribner)
  • The Overstory, by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)
  • Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, by Elizabeth Rush (Milkweed Editions)
  • All the Names They Used for God, by Anjali Sachdeva (Spiegel & Grau)
  • The Mercy Seat, by Elizabeth H. Winthrop (Grove Press)

The winning book will be selected from this shortlist and announced in late May.

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Chautauqua Institution Signs On to Consensus Strategy for Chautauqua Lake Conservation

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Chautauqua Institution today announced that it has signed on to the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy championed by Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. The MOA seeks to bring together lake agencies and organizations, as well as the municipalities located around Chautauqua Lake, so they can more effectively work together to manage invasive aquatic plants, nuisance native vegetation, and hazardous algal blooms in the lake while being considerate of the lake and its watershed’s economic, recreational and ecological significance. Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill signed the MOA on the Institution’s behalf.

“I proudly signed this memorandum on behalf of Chautauqua Institution because it represents the comprehensive and scientifically sound approach for Chautauqua Lake conservation that we’ve been advocating for many years,” Hill said. “We are hopeful that all other agencies and municipalities will join us in signing the MOA and supporting this incredibly important strategy. We thank County Executive Borrello for his resolute leadership on this crucial issue. While Chautauqua Lake faces many challenges, we’re confident that with an independently sourced, science-based comprehensive approach and the support and leadership of a consensus of stakeholders, we will save and preserve Chautauqua Lake as the source of so much of our livelihood in Chautauqua County.”

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My Tran Wins Second Chautauqua Janus Prize

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Author Will Give Public Lecture and Reading at Chautauqua Institution 

Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce “Tree rings, like concentric ghosts” by My Tran as the 2019 winner of The Chautauqua Janus Prize.

As the author selected from eight finalists by judge Vi Khi Nao, Tran receives $5,000, elevated this year from the original prize of $2,500, plus all travel and expenses for a summer residency at Chautauqua during the 2019 summer season. Tran will present a public lecture and reading at a celebratory event with music and refreshments at a date to be determined on the Institution’s grounds. Their writing will also appear in a future issue of the literary journal Chautauqua

Tran said they were honored to be chosen for a prize that celebrates formal innovation.

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Prayers for Christchurch, from Chautauqua

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Dear Chautauquans,

We stand with Muslims around the world in grieving the acts of hatred and murder in Christchurch, New Zealand. Chautauqua Institution remains steadfast in its commitment to interfaith dialogue and engagement that build bridges and foster understanding across difference. Interfaith understanding doesn’t just happen — it takes work and study and face-to-face interactions with Muslims. That is why Chautauqua, through its Department of Religion, strives to bring leading Muslim voices to our 2 p.m. Interfaith Lecture Series and our Interfaith Fridays series. Ours is an emphasis on interfaith learning and respect that has gone on at Chautauqua for more than two decades.

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Board of Trustees Extends President Michael E. Hill’s Contract

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Hill to Pursue Doctoral Degree

The Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees has extended President Michael E. Hill’s appointment for three years, through Dec. 31, 2021, following its annual review of presidential and institutional performance last month. Hill, who was appointed in 2016 and began his work at Chautauqua on Jan. 1, 2017, is the 18th president of the nearly 150-year-old Institution.

“Michael has met or exceeded all of our expectations in his first two years of service, and he has outlined an ambitious agenda for the future of our beloved Institution,” said James A. Pardo Jr., chair of the Board of Trustees. “The Board approved his contract extension with great excitement and anticipation for the future.”

Hill and others currently are in the final stages of a comprehensive and collaborative strategic planning process that is outlining the Institution’s priorities over the next five to 10 years. As part of this process, Hill’s vision to expand Chautauqua’s impact beyond the summer assembly season and beyond the grounds of Chautauqua’s historic campus has been tested and reaffirmed. The plan is scheduled to be approved by the Board in May and released to the community in June.

“It has been a true honor to engage with the Chautauqua community and to understand its aspirations and potential in the world,” Hill said. “I am thrilled by the Board’s confidence in my leadership and vision, and I look forward to building on the extraordinary experiences and conversations that we convene here on the grounds during the summer months and to also bring them to a world that is calling for Chautauqua’s multidisciplinary brand of positive, action-oriented dialogue and engagement.”

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Chautauqua School of Art and Pratt Institute Announce Groundbreaking Partnership

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Inaugural Pratt/VACI Fellowship in Pedagogy a First-of-its-kind Opportunity

Chautauqua Institution’s School of Art this week announced a series of new and reconfirmed partnerships designed to increase awareness of the renowned summer program and to provide its students with more attractive financial aid packages. Spearheaded by Sharon Louden, Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution (VACI), the new partnership initiative features as its centerpiece the inaugural Pratt/VACI Fellowship in Pedagogy, an innovative collaboration developed by Pratt Fine Arts Department, the Center for Teaching and Learning at Pratt Institute and VACI.

“As I’ve traveled and visited with many artists, educators, students around the country, it’s become clear to me that there’s a gap in our education system for artists who would like to teach— artists don’t often learn how to teach when they are in college seeking a MFA,” said Louden, an artist, educator, advocate for artists, and editor of the Living and Sustaining a Creative Life series of books. “My hope in partnering with Pratt on this groundbreaking fellowship is to provide a model for how we might educate the next generation of artists to teach as well as give direction on how to apply, interview, negotiate and secure a teaching job, where to apply our skills to teach outside of higher education, and actively encourage artists to participate in explorations around new pedagogies.”

This first-of-its-kind fellowship, which is fully-funded, enables a Pratt Institute Fine Arts graduate student to attend the summer program and to teach a course through the training of VACI core-faculty member Hasan Elahi, who will teach the “Art of Pedagogy” component within the residency program. Elahi is an artist, associate professor at the University of Maryland and board member of Creative Capital. After the summer residency concludes, the fellow will return to Pratt Institute and share their new knowledge with Pratt Institute students and faculty.

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