News & Announcements

From the President: Learning to Breathe Differently

Dear Chautauquans,

George Floyd and his tragic murder by a person hired to serve and protect have taught us much over the past months. Perhaps most importantly, they have made the simple, involuntary act of breathing a metaphor for privilege.

Those who remain alive and free, empowered with that privilege of breathing, are called to come out of their political and COVID-enforced corners and, in community, rediscover our shared moral, ethical and human compass to inform the future we want in this country — a future that will influence and inform choices made the world over.

While national, state and local leaders must play roles in this rediscovery process, we all have a social responsibility to do something different — not just read about, it, or talk about it, or leave it to women, or people of color, or people with disabilities, or the LGBTQIA+ community to be architects of the critical conversations that must take place in our world today. Every person with that privilege of breathing has a role to play.

Be assured, as we prepare to convene Chautauqua’s 148th Assembly, we are dedicating a great deal of time to the examination of Chautauqua’s shared values, and the role we must play in this important work; and how that work starts here — in our own community.

With continuing and mindful prayers for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, we pledge to work for a place of wisdom, fairness and understanding to replace our defaults of ignorance, bias and division. May Mr. Floyd’s death — and those of too many others — not be in vain. May our actions and choices never make it so.

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Michael E. Hill
President

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New Details About Your 2021 Chautauqua Experience

Dear Chautauquans,

Thank you for your patience as we awaited more definitive information from New York State regarding COVID-19 operational regulations and protocols for presenting organizations such as Chautauqua Institution. While guidance from the state continues to evolve, at last, we are at a point where we can share some detail about how Chautauqua will come to life in 2021 — and how that will be similar to and different from recent years. One thing we know for sure is that the experience each of us has at Chautauqua will depend on all of us approaching this summer with a spirit of understanding, flexibility and looking out for each other.

The continuing GOOD news is we will be together again on the grounds of our beloved Chautauqua. Through weekly email updates, we are sharing news of the worship, lecture, youth, education, schools, recreation, and performing and visual arts programs we are planning, and we hope you can see that our staff and collaborating preachers, speakers, teachers, and artists are demonstrating amazing creativity and innovation in bringing to life a diverse and exciting program for this summer. Your willingness to be creative and flexible along with us will make for an enriching experience for all.

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Chautauqua Theater Company Embraces Spirit of Creativity, Opportunity in 2021 Season

Chautauqua Theater Company Embraces Spirit of Creativity, Opportunity in 2021 Season

Chautauqua Theater Company today unveils program plans for the 2021 season, including three mainstage productions at the open-air Performance Pavilion on Pratt Avenue, a modified version of the renowned New Play Workshops.

The mainstage performances showcase CTC’s versatility and commitment to elevating BIPOC voices, through presentations of Dominique Morrisseau’s Blood at the Root and George Stevens Jr.’s Thurgood, alongside original productions of the centuries-old Commedia dell’arte form. The 2021 repertoire responds to the issues of the day and the challenges of performing live in what everyone hopes will be the final months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Chautauqua Launches Travel Program

Chautauqua Travels New Orleans

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution today announced a new partnership with Academic Travel Abroad, Inc. (ATA) that will take the Chautauqua experience “on the road” to introduce, extend and supplement the Institution’s iconic Summer Assembly thematic-based programs. This represents the Institution’s second partnership with ATA, a Washington, D.C.-based international travel organization that first collaborated with Chautauqua in the 1980s for the historic Chautauqua Conferences on U.S.-Soviet Relations.

Named Chautauqua Travels, this one-of-a-kind group travel program will curate unmatched experiences in the U.S. and abroad, leveraging Chautauqua’s distinctive mix of interdisciplinary and intergenerational explorations of the best in human values and the enrichment of life with an untiring commitment to civil dialogue.

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Chautauqua Opera Company Celebrates Versatility, Creativity in 2021 Season

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CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Opera Company today unveils program plans for the 2021 season, including two mainstage productions at the open-air Performance Pavilion on Pratt Avenue, and an enhanced commitment to new works through the celebrated Composer-in-Residence program and a new Composer Fellows program.

The mainstage performances highlight the versatility of Chautauqua Opera Company through new productions of Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg and (Working Title): A Company Developed Piece. The 2021 repertoire responds to the issues of the day and the challenges of performing live in what everyone hopes will be the final months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Planning for the 2021 season has focused on how we can assure the safety of our company and audience. There have been many difficult decisions to make and, unfortunately, reductions in the number of artists and production personnel we can engage. Nonetheless, I am pleased that we will still give seven mainstage performances (compared to nine in 2019), and we are looking to 2022 for the return of our full company,” said Steven Osgood, general and artistic director of Chautauqua Opera Company.

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Chautauqua Institution Welcomes Dance Theatre of Harlem for Spring Residency

Dance Theatre of Harlem: The Company in Balamouk | Photo by Christopher Duggan

Chautauqua Institution today announced a multi-week residency with Dance Theatre of Harlem ballet company that will take place on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution during the month of April and culminate with public events at the Athenaeum Hotel’s Heirloom Restaurant May 1–2.  

During the residency, the company will take part in Chautauqua Arts Education programs online with Chautauqua County schools, as well as online conversations on CHQ Assembly featuring artistic director Virginia Johnson and renowned choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher. Rea-Fisher’s focus in the residency is a commission in tribute to legendary jazz and classical pianist and singer Hazel Scott, in the year that would have been Scott’s 100th birthday. The Hazel Scott Project has been commissioned by Washington Performing Arts with additional support provided by Dartmouth College Hopkins Center and Chautauqua Institution.

The May 1 dinner and May 2 brunch at Heirloom Restaurant will include exclusive screenings of two pre-recorded studio performances from Chautauqua’s Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studios, followed by a live Q-and-A with Artistic Director Virginia Johnson at Heirloom. The performances, which will each feature the same repertoire but showcase different dancers and conversation, will premiere at a later date on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform.

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Chautauqua Institution's Chautauqua Opera Company, Voice Program to Unite in 2022

Voice Student performing on July 24, 2019

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution today announced the unification of its resident Chautauqua Opera Company, led by General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood, and Voice Program, led by Chair Marlena Malas. The newly combined program, under the auspices of Chautauqua Performing and Visual Arts, will be known as the Chautauqua Opera Company and Conservatory as the Institution moves into the 2022 season. The opera company’s existing Young Artist Program and the Voice Program, which serve young artists of different levels of training, will maintain their current leadership, faculty and staff, and their distinct and highly regarded training models.

“This move codifies a cross-pollination that had been occurring naturally for many years, by colleagues who saw opportunities to enhance the development of Chautauqua's young singers,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts, and interim senior vice president and chief program officer. “By formally combining the two departments, we further unify our leadership and our teams, and align resources and efforts to establish a renewed and significant presence of voice at Chautauqua. We seek to retain the high quality and specific foci of both programs while making it easier for our patrons to access schedules and programs for ‘all things that sing’ — be they performances or pedagogy.”

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Chautauqua Golf Club Announces New Foodservice Offerings, 2021 Opening Day

The Chautauqua Golf Club today announced that the Chautauqua Hotel Company has taken over responsibility for the Clubhouse restaurant, the Double Eagle Patio on the Green. The club also announced an anticipated April 15 opening date for the 2021 golf season, weather permitting.

Featuring both indoor and covered outdoor seating with sweeping views of manicured fairways and the hills surrounding Chautauqua Lake, the Double Eagle Patio on the Green will be open to the public and to golfers seven days a week once golf operations begin. New this season is an enhanced menu with new and creative food offerings created by Chef Edward Work III, executive chef of the Athenaeum Hotel. Work has also developed the menus at other popular Chautauqua Institution-owned food venues operated by the Chautauqua Hotel Company, such as the Athenaeum’s Heirloom Restaurant and the Afterwords Café on Bestor Plaza. The 2021 Double Eagle menu will be available later this month at golf.chq.org.

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2021 Season Update from President Michael E. Hill

Dear Chautauquans,

The message we posted yesterday regarding the 2021 Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra season has sparked great enthusiasm for the forthcoming summer as well as a desire to know more. We join our entire community of communities in feeling increasingly hopeful about our prospects for a wonderful summer at Chautauqua.

I write today to provide a more comprehensive update on the state of planning in view of continuing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to give you a sense of our thinking at this time: What we know; what we do not know; and when we expect to know more. 

Please know that in all cases, we are attempting to offer an experience that comes as close as possible to normal times. Where we are not able to achieve that goal, it will be because state or local restrictions remain in place or because, by the time state and local restrictions are lifted, we will have lost the lead time necessary to book speakers, preachers and performers, hire staff and prepare facilities, or otherwise plan all the programs we wish to offer. 

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Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Musicians Reach Agreement

August 9, 2019 | CSO Beethoven Triple Concerto

Chautauqua Institution today announced a new agreement with the musicians of the resident Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. The agreement extends the current Collective Bargaining Agreement through September 2021, but makes some important adjustments that provide for flexibility and creativity in planning the ensemble’s 2021 season.   

“I am pleased and grateful we have been able to reach an agreement that will serve both our patrons and CSO musicians during the 2021 season as we all look forward to an enriching and soul-nourishing 2021 Summer Assembly,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. 

“This hope-filled news allows us to immediately work together to create a season that balances safe practices and bold performances,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, interim senior vice president and chief program officer for Chautauqua. “Our gratitude to the musicians for placing trust in artistic leadership will be met with programming that allows us to discover emerging composers, revel in favorite classics, explore smaller ensembles and do what artists always do — inspire the community we exist to serve.” 

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Chautauqua Names First-Ever Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Officer

Photo by Tom Rettig

Following a national search, Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill today announced the appointment of Amit Taneja as Chautauqua’s first-ever Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Officer. In this role, Taneja will oversee the development of organization and community programs, services, operations, trainings, procedures and policies to ensure that inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility are integral to all that is Chautauqua Institution. As Chief IDEA Officer, he will also collaborate with staff, patrons and other community stakeholders across Chautauqua to infuse IDEA principles throughout the Institution and into the planning and development of all its programs across the Institution’s four pillars of the arts, education, recreation and religion. He will jointly serve a role as a Senior Vice President of the Institution, providing overall leadership assistance in support of Chautauqua’s strategic plan.

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Chautauqua Institution Arts Education Awarded Three-Year Grant from The Children’s Guild Foundation

Chautauqua Institution’s Arts Education School Residencies program is the recipient of a three-year grant award totaling $45,000 from The Children’s Guild Foundation, located in Buffalo, New York. This support is to help sustain the current program and develop professional development opportunities for area teachers in arts integration teaching strategies to serve students with disabilities across Chautauqua County.

The Children’s Guild Foundation financially supports the efforts of nonprofit organizations across Western New York, with a focus on education and serving students with disabilities among their top priorities. The Institution’s School Residencies program has served students with arts integration-based lessons and residencies for six years. During the 2019–20 school year, this program served more than 300 students in eight schools throughout Chautauqua County.

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Chautauqua Institution and Chautauqua Cinema Join Forces

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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

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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'

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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

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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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