Supporting the Arts at Chautauqua Institution

VACI Partners is a member-driven organization with a mission to promote awareness, education, appreciation and excellence in the visual arts at Chautauqua Institution. The Partners support the Strohl and Fowler-Kellogg Art Centers, the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden, and the Chautauqua School of Art. VACI Partners encourages an appreciation for all forms of art making, by both professionals and amateurs. The Partners want all artists at Chautauqua reaffirm their commitment to their work, to listen, and to be challenged.

VACI Partners is managed by a Board of Directors who work closely with Sharon Louden, Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts, and Judy Barie, Susan and John Turben Director of VACI Galleries.

Over the course of the season VACI Partners hosts events for its members and for the general public. These have traditionally included art fairs, lectures, exhibition openings, and fundraising activities. Events planned for 2019 are described below. Please join us and take advantage of all that Chautauqua has to offer in the area of visual arts.

VACI Partners Membership Application


Community Events

VACI Partners Community Events

Art in the Park 
Sundays, July 7 & August 4, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

An open art fair with 75 vendors held in Miller Park, showcasing art by members of the Chautauqua community, students from the School of Art, and artisans from the region around Chautauqua Institution. 

Opening Receptions for major exhibitions. View the schedule of exhibitions here.

Stroll Through the Arts Auction and Gala  
Each summer VACI Partners hosts a ticketed event to raise funds in support of student scholarships. This year the Gala takes place on Friday, July 26, from 5:30–8 p.m. in the VACI Piazza with music, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on original piece of art. The Gala is not just a fundraiser, but also a community building event that raises awareness around the breadth and depth of the arts at Chautauqua. All proceeds benefit Chautauqua School of Art Student scholarships.

Tickets may be purchased in advance using the VACI Partners membership form or at the Strohl Art Center once the season begins.

Picnic Dinner for Friends of an Art Student Hosts 

The host program connects students in the School of Art to members of the Chautauqua community. Volunteer hosts, who are paired with students, are encouraged to share their Chautauqua experience by offering small gestures of support, such as a home cooked meal, a shared evening in the Amphitheater, or a ride to the local grocery. The connections between a student and a volunteer host can transform the summer experience for both parties, simultaneously integrating an emerging artist into the community, and bringing the ideas and process of art marking out of the studio to a porch front discussion. In 2019 the picnic will be held on June 27.

If you are on the grounds throughout the first six to seven weeks of the season you are welcome to volunteer to be a “Friend of an Art Student” by emailing

Volunteers are requested to attend an organizational meeting on Tuesday, June 25, in the Strohl Art Gallery to receive an overview of the program and expectations for communication.