News & Announcements

(UPDATED 3/27) How We're Planning in These Uncertain Times

At this time, Chautauqua Institution's 2020 summer assembly season remains intact, and there are currently no restrictions or cancelations impacting our planned programs and services.

In the meantime, to protect the health and well-being of our staff, on-grounds community and Chautauqua County neighbors, we are in daily conversation with Chautauqua County officials and are taking every measure and precaution they recommend as our understanding of the pandemic evolves, in addition to following regulations from state and federal officials. We have no evidence of an influx of seasonal residents returning to Chautauqua from more densely populated areas.

Regular updates will be provided below. Please see the CDC's COVID-19 guidance for information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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Institution Offices and Operations Closed Thursday, Feb. 27

Due to inclement weather and the Blizzard Warning issued by the National Weather Service, most of Chautauqua's offices and operations will be closed today, Thursday, Feb. 27. Afterwords Café is closed. The Chautauqua Bookstore is open but may close early. The Fitness Center is open but classes are canceled. The Ticket Office is closed.

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Chautauqua Golf Club Master Plan Calls for Restoration of Original Donald Ross Vision

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Chautauqua Institution’s Chautauqua Golf Club now has a master plan that offers a menu of suggestions for consideration as Institution leaders consider the future of this nationally recognized asset. The 36-hole club includes the Lake Course, which was designed by legendary Scottish golf course architect Donald J. Ross in the early 1920s, and the Hill Course, designed by Xen Hassenplug in the mid 1980s. 

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Chautauqua Community Mourns Passing of Jim Lehrer

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We were heartbroken to hear the news yesterday that Jim Lehrer, the legendary PBS NewsHour anchor and dear friend of Chautauqua, passed away at the age of 85.

After first appearing on the Amphitheater stage in 2009 during a week on “The History of Liberty,” Lehrer returned to Chautauqua in 2010 in conversation with Roger Rosenblatt. In 2012, Lehrer moderated an entire week of conversations on “What Informed Voters Need to Know,” ahead of that year’s presidential election. 

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Chautauqua Institution Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Chautauqua Opera Company's 2020 Opera Festival

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Chautauqua Institution has been awarded a $15,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2020 Opera Festival, entitled “The Women’s Suffrage Centennial: Claiming a Voice, Claiming a Vote.”

As part of Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week summer assembly season, Chautauqua Opera Company produces more than 30 operatic events, including three mainstage operas. The company’s 2020 season celebrates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment with a trio of operas, each of which revolves around a powerful female figure who is fighting to forge her own path and have her voice heard.

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Season's Greetings from Chautauqua

Whatever warms your heart and makes you smile, may you experience it in abundance this holiday season. From all of us at Chautauqua, season's greetings!

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Recently Retired Chautauqua Institution Chief of Police Al Akin Lays Wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Alan Akin, who for more than 40 years served as chief of police at Chautauqua Institution until his retirement earlier this month, participated on Sunday, Oct. 20, in the ceremonial wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Akin was selected for this honor by members of the United States Army Field Band, which frequently performs free concerts at Chautauqua, in recognition of his decades of service to the Chautauqua community, ensuring the safety and security of residents, patrons and distinguished guests. Akin laid a wreath in memory of his cousin, Theodore W. Johnson, of Westfield, a U.S. Air Force first lieutenant who was killed in action in Vietnam.

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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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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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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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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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