News & Announcements

Chautauqua Institution and Chautauqua Cinema Join Forces


Chautauqua Institution and Chautauqua Cinema today announced a plan to integrate operations to create a more seamless and enhanced guest experience.

The first phase of this integration will take place during the 2021 season, when Chautauqua Cinema and Chautauqua Institution will work more closely together. Chautauqua Cinema will provide support and leadership for all motion picture experiences on the Institution grounds, including planned outdoor movies as well as selected events in the Chautauqua Amphitheater, with films being presented at Chautauqua Cinema as COVID-19 regulations permit.

The second phase of the plan will occur starting in fall 2021, when Chautauqua Cinema as a separate corporate entity will be dissolved, and Chautauqua Institution will assume responsibility for its operations. Chautauqua Cinema owner Billy Schmidt will then become a seasonal staff member of the Institution to provide leadership for Cinema operations during the summer and shoulder months.

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Chautauqua to Return to Its Tent Roots in 2021

A scene from Chautauqua Theater Company's 2019 outdoor production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Dave Munch

Opera, Theater open to all to be presented in an outdoor venue on Pratt Avenue

Following analysis of the potential use of Norton Hall as the primary venue for Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Opera Company performances in 2021, Institution officials have opted instead to construct a temporary performance pavilion on Pratt Avenue for the presentation of performances with lawn seating open to all gate pass holders.  The plan includes the presentation of approximately 40 theater, opera and selected other programs over the nine-week Summer Assembly.  In addition to lawn space open for self-seating and requiring no additional ticket, a limited number of reserved seats under the cover of the pavilion will be sold for each performance at $25 per person.  Recognizing the Pratt Avenue location is normally used informally and in limited ways during a typical Summer Assembly, programs at the pavilion will be scheduled to take place during the day and early evening hours only, and all public events will occur on a pre-published schedule. 

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Chautauqua Institution Announces Rion Amilcar Scott as 2021 Chautauqua Janus Prize Guest Judge

Guest Judge Rion Amilcar Scott

Now in Fourth Year, Award Honors Innovative Short Fiction or Nonfiction  

Chautauqua Institution today announced that it is accepting submissions for the Chautauqua Janus Prize, now in its fourth year. This unique literary prize celebrates an emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder readers’ imaginations. In addition to receiving a $5,000 award, the winner will give a reading during the 2021 summer season as part of the Institution’s CHQ Assembly online platform and appear in a forthcoming issue of the literary journal Chautauqua. The prize is funded by a generous donation from Chautauquans Barbara and Twig Branch.  

Named for Janus, the Roman god who looks to both the past and the future, the prize will honor writing with a command of craft that renovates understandings of both. The 2021 winner will be selected by guest judge Rion Amilcar Scott, who will also lead a prose workshop during the 2022 summer season with the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn't Require You (Norton/Liveright, 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Scott’s work has appeared in such publications as The New YorkerThe Kenyon ReviewBest American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020 and Crab Orchard Review, among others. He previously taught at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center in 2019, leading a workshop and craft talk on world-building. 

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Season’s Greetings from Chautauqua


Dear Chautauqua Community,

My thoughts and prayers are with each of you as we look toward the end of a tumultuous 2020 and turn our thoughts to preparing for an in-person summer assembly season for 2021. 

Earlier this year, when considering the slate of 2021 weekly themes, we decided to close our summerlong exercise in shared learning on a simple yet profound topic: Resilience. We will seek to conclude our time together in 2021 on that hopeful note, with programs aligned with this description:

What drives people to keep going when forces outside their control work against them? And what does that tell us about our humanity and hope for the future? We close our 2021 season looking at the resilience that emerged during a tumultuous 2020. From a global pandemic to the quest for racial equality, we reflect on a revealing, historic period by lifting up the stories and the lessons of those who refused to give up, give in or go away.

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Institution Board Approves Approach for In-person 2021 Season

Authorizes Staff to Plan for Limited Programs, Capacity Pending Government Go-ahead, Regulations

Chautauqua Institution this week announced the outline of a plan to present programming for in-person audiences during its 2021 summer assembly season, pending evolving guidance and regulations from state, federal and local government officials. The approach was approved by the Institution’s Board of Trustees at its Dec. 9 meeting, and was shared with members of the community via a series of webinars (included below).

“This working plan is the result of our team having spent the entire fall consulting experts, learning from the experience of industry colleagues, and observing and analyzing government regulations concerning entities with operations similar to Chautauqua’s. We took those learnings alongside the evolving news but promise of vaccines, and crafted a series of informed assumptions about what we might encounter in June,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. “We come to this decision with clear eyes regarding the current heightened state of the pandemic, and I hope this news can provide our patrons hope and something to look forward to. I know it has for our team. We pray in the meantime for rapid vaccine uptake and, always, for the health and safety of all members of our greater Chautauqua and regional communities.”

Hill noted all Institution operations will meet, and in many cases exceed, federal, state and local regulations. Details of how these mandated policies and procedures will affect the patron experience will be shared as the season approaches, following more firm guidance from authorities.

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Chautauqua Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to Present Special Program on 'Tehran Children'


Two-part Live Online Event on Dec. 8 to Feature Author Mikhal Dekel

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y., & WASHINGTON, D.C. — Chautauqua Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today announced a jointly presented online program titled “The Tehran Children: Iran’s Unexpected & Suppressed Connection to the Holocaust,” inspired by Mikhal Dekel’s 2019 memoir Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey. Dekel will participate in each segment of the two-part, 90-minute presentation, to air live beginning 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 8, on the Institution’s CHQ Assembly video channel.  

A finalist for the 2020 Chautauqua Prize, Tehran Children tells the little-known story of the of the more than 1 million Polish Jews who fled the Nazis by traversing the Soviet Union, and in particular nearly 1,000 children who were evacuated to Iran. Dekel’s late father, Hannan Teitel, was one of these “Tehran Children”; the book is the culmination of her decade-long journey to understand the 13,000-mile odyssey at the core of his young adulthood — an experience which he never talked about, though it informed every aspect of his being. 

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A Message of Thanksgiving from Chautauqua

From President Michael E. Hill

This year has brought challenges unlike any most of us have ever known. There is little about daily life that is not markedly different from a year ago. We are more attuned than ever to our physical and mental health, and to the presence — and absence — of others. Our nation has endured parallel crises of this pandemic, economic struggle, and social upheaval over issues of racism and justice, all taking place against the backdrop of a rancorous presidential election. The list of disruptions and discontinuities goes on and on; you know and feel many of them in your life.

And yet we are called to a ritual of gratitude this week — a pause to acknowledge the fruits of labor, the interconnectedness of our worlds, and the blessings yet to come. I offer my deeply felt thanks to you, our Chautauqua family. Thank you for your continued engagement with and support of Chautauqua’s mission. Thank you for your questions and your good counsel. Thank you for carrying the light of Chautauqua in your home communities. 

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Joshua Stafford Officially Named Chautauqua Institution Director of Sacred Music, Organist


Celebrated Musician and Jamestown Native First to Hold Jared Jacobsen Endowed Chair

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Joshua Stafford as the Department of Religion’s Director of Sacred Music, including its organist, and the first to hold the newly established Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist of Chautauqua Institution. Stafford served as Institution organist in an interim capacity during the 2020 summer assembly season.

An internationally renowned and award-winning organist and native of neighboring Jamestown, Stafford succeeds the late Jared Jacobsen, his mentor and teacher, as the principal performer on the historic Massey Memorial Organ. Stafford’s role as Director of Sacred Music will also serve as conductor of the Institution’s two volunteer choirs, the Chautauqua Choir and the Motet Choir. 

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Only Art Held Me: The Ying Quartet Presents the Beethoven Cycle Partnership with Bowdoin Festival, Chautauqua and Eastman

Ying Quartet

ROCHESTER, NY— Internationally renowned string quartet the Ying Quartet, in partnership with Bowdoin International Music Festival, Chautauqua Institution, and the Eastman School of Music, will present the full Beethoven String Quartet cycle in a series of concerts throughout the 2020/2021 season, in honor of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The Yings have given the series the overall title Only Art Held Me.

The first in a series of 10 concerts will be held Sunday, December 6 at 4 p.m., including a Q&A with the Ying Quartet after the performance. All concerts in the series will premiere on Chautauqua’s CHQ Assembly video platform and will be available on demand for audiences to enjoy on their own time, in addition to the initial viewing.

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From the President: Update on 2021 Planning

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Chautauqua Theater Company Announces Stori Ayers as new Associate Artistic Director

Stori Ayers in CTC's Detroit 67

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, today announced the appointment of Stori Ayers as Associate Artistic Director. 

Ayers has been an integral part of the CTC community since 2017, first arriving as a guest actor in Detroit ’67, and returning in 2018 and 2019 as assistant director on An Octoroon, Into the Breeches! and One Man, Two Guvnors. In 2019, she also appeared in CTC’s production of The Christians. For CTC’s virtual 2020 Season, Ayers became the Conservatory Liaison, overseeing a conservatory of 33 actors and designers as well as teaching. In her new role as Associate Artistic Director, Ayers will work with Borba on planning future seasons; inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) work; and conservatory growth. She will also continue to direct and act.

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Two National Leaders Join Chautauqua Institution Board Of Trustees


Helene Gayle, David Peckinpaugh Begin Terms Oct. 1

Chautauqua Institution’s Board of Trustees elected Dr. Helene D. Gayle and David Peckinpaugh to four-year terms of service at the body’s final meeting of the 2020 season on Aug. 29. The new trustee class officially begins its term on Oct. 1. 

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Samantha Power, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Henrietta Fore, Sandra Cisneros, Partnership With UN Foundation, Headline Week Nine of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Nine of its 2020 season. The week, which begins Aug. 22 and concludes Aug. 30, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Nine features former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen; UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore; celebrated author Sandra Cisneros; and a program partnership with the UN Foundation, as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the United Nations.

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Nine focuses on “The Future We Want, The World We Need: Collective Action for Tomorrow’s Challenges,” in which the 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series partners with the UN Foundation to consider how we can work together to better prepare for our global future. The inquiry will include what we can learn from international communities and partnerships driving innovative solutions to global issues, identifying tools that communities can use to learn from one another and drive collective action.

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Introducing the Jefferson Project to Chautauqua Lake

One of two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute-built vertical profilers that will be installed on Chautauqua Lake in late-August (Source: Rick Relyea).

The Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) is pleased to announce that The Jefferson Project at Lake George, a state-of-the-art program for water quality and Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) research, will be introduced to Chautauqua Lake in 2020.  In partnership with the Chautauqua County Government and Chautauqua Institution, the Alliance has finalized the arrangements to bring The Jefferson Project Team from Lake George to Chautauqua Lake later this month. 

The Jefferson Project is a collaboration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM Research, and The FUND for Lake George, which employs a sophisticated technological approach to studying fresh water, with a goal of understanding the impact of human activity on fresh water, and how to mitigate those effects.

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Fr. Richard Rohr, Jon Meacham, Martha S. Jones, Joshua Bell, David Treuer Headline Week Eight of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Eight of its 2020 season. The week, which begins Aug. 15 and concludes Aug. 22, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Eight includes globally recognized ecumenical teacher Fr. Richard Rohr; presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham; legal and cultural historian Martha S. Jones; celebrated violinist Joshua Bell; and 2019 National Book Award finalist author David Treuer. 

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Eight focuses on “Reframing the Constitution,” in which the 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series examines whether the Constitution is securing the “blessings of liberty” for all Americans, and whether constitutional reform — from amendment to outright replacement — is necessary and even possible. 

The 2 p.m. EDT Interfaith Lecture Series program showcases Rohr, the Franciscan mystic, theologian and movement-maker, presenting a four-day series titled “Reframing Our Journey: A Week with Fr. Richard Rohr.” Rohr moved Chautauqua audiences in droves during his 2019 residency, and he returns via CHQ Assembly to help citizens more intentionally think about how they are reframing their own journey. 

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Brian Greene, Adrienne Lafrance, Flynn Coleman, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Petina Gappah Headline Week Seven of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Seven of its 2020 season. The week, which begins Aug. 8 and concludes Aug. 15, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Seven includes theoretical physicist Brian Greene; editor and journalist Adrienne LaFrance; writer and human rights attorney Flynn Coleman; author Maurice Carlos Ruffin; and author and 2020 Chautauqua Prize winner Petina Gappah. 

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Seven focuses on “The Science of Us,” and how 21st-century science, and now a global pandemic, are disrupting our social and historical understandings of how “us” happens and who “we” are — as communities, demographies, families, nations and a human race. The 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series take a deep dive on America’s understanding of itself and how scientific developments are now informing that perspective. 

The 2 p.m. EDT Interfaith Lecture Series is themed “The Spirituality of Us,” in which we explore how the spirit of the world’s traditions continues to communicate essential wisdom and to weave tapestries of spiritual truth that help to define “us.”   

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Kirk Stauffer named Director of Golf at Chautauqua Institution

Kirk Stauffer

Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Kirk Stauffer as Director of Golf, effective Wednesday, July 29. In this newly created role, made possible through philanthropy, Stauffer assumes leadership of the Chautauqua Golf Club, and is responsible for managing and continuously developing all aspects of golf operations at Chautauqua Institution.
Stauffer’s charges in the new post include providing a clear vision strategically aligned with 150 Forward, the Institution’s strategic plan, and the parallel Campus and Golf Club master plans; identifying additional sales and marketing opportunities; ensuring consistent delivery of customer service excellence; and maximizing revenue and profitability. Areas of direct oversight also include the Chautauqua Golf Club’s Pro Shop and Learning Center; course maintenance operations; food, beverage and banquet facility (The Double Eagle); and locker rooms and other golf facilities administration.

“We were grateful to receive a considerable response to our posting for this position, and fortunate to consider strong candidates from all manner of backgrounds and experience levels,” said Director of Recreation Meg Pickard, who oversees all recreation operations at Chautauqua Institution. “In addition to his remarkable accomplishments as a professional golfer, Kirk became our top choice thanks to his track record of care for his patrons and guests, and particularly his passion for introducing newcomers to golf and fostering their love for the game. We’re excited to see how his leadership inspires the continued elevation of our already highly regarded playing conditions and customer service.”

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Jeb Bush, Sir Ken Robinson, Diane Ravitch, Beloved Chautauqua Community Traditions Headline Week Six of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Six of its 2020 season. The week, which begins Aug. 1 and concludes Aug. 8, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Six includes renowned guests such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; world-renowned educational leader Ken Robinson; education historian and researcher Diane Ravitch; and a number of beloved Chautauqua community traditions recreated in the CHQ Assembly space in lieu of in-person celebrations. 

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Six focuses on “Rebuilding Public Education,” a topic that assumes even more urgency as local, state and national leaders reach critical decision points on how to best and most safely provide an education for students and essential services for families. The 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series will also look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2020 election, to help us understand how we might build more integrated and equitable public schools and best prepare our children for careers and as citizens in a rapidly changing world.

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Joan Chittister, Valarie Kaur, Mirabai Starr, Elaine Weiss, Carol Jenkins, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul Headline Week Five of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Five of its 2020 season. The week, which begins July 25 and concludes Aug. 5, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Five includes renowned guests such as former U.S. senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; author and activist from nearby Erie, Pennsylvania, Sr. Joan Chittister; celebrated filmmaker Valarie Kaur; award-winning journalist Elaine Weiss; co-President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality Carol Jenkins; and New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Five commemorates “The Women’s Vote Centennial and Beyond,” as Chautauqua joins the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Lecturers will consider those who were left out of the mainstream suffrage movement, examine the slow progress toward gender equality in the United States, and bring forward relevant lessons from the fight for women’s suffrage and apply them to ongoing battles for equality. The 2 p.m. EDT Interfaith Lecture Series is themed “The Feminine Spirit,” exploring how the feminine charisms are juxtaposed with the masculine charisms in this emerging era.

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Nicholas Thompson, Rana El Kaliouby, Michael Sandel, Rabbi David Wolpe Headline Week Four of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Four of its 2020 season. The week, which begins July 18 and concludes July 25, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Four includes renowned guests such as Wired Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson; computer scientist and entrepreneur Rana el Kaliouby; Harvard political philosopher and bestselling author Michael Sandel; and one of America’s most influential rabbis, David Wolpe.

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Four examines “The Ethics of Tech: Scientific, Corporate and Personal Responsibility,” in which speakers in the 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series program explore the tremendous and sometimes harmful impact Big Tech companies and their products have on society. The 2 p.m. EDT Interfaith Lecture Series is themed “Ethics in a Technologically Transforming World?” which will examine the ethical, spiritual and religious dimensions of “new tech.” Is it a step away from our own spiritual growth or can it be harnessed to create greater understanding?

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