Institution Announces Return to Normal Programming in 2022; Board Extends Hill’s Term, Approves New Buildings and Grounds Facility Project
Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill today announced the Institution’s 149th Summer Assembly will return to its normal schedule and cadence, June 25–Aug. 28, 2022. This decision follows a two-day meeting of the Institution’s Board of Trustees Nov. 5–6. The Board reviewed updates on initiatives stemming from the strategic plan 150 Forward, including outcomes for the 2021 season, which exceeded projections for both attendance and revenue.
“We were delighted and heartened to see that, even amid the continuing pandemic and our corresponding need to modify programming and enforce health and safety regulations, that patrons returned to Chautauqua in numbers nearing the highest attendance ever,” Hill said.
While Institution leaders expect there to remain some health and safety requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, it believes it can safely leverage both indoor and outdoor spaces in a manner similar to previous years. Plans are underway for a robust schedule of lectures, performing arts, religion and recreation activities, with announcements of key speakers and performances starting next week.
The board will review final 2022 budget and more detailed 2022 Summer Assembly operational plans in December.
Five More Years for Chautauqua’s President
At its business meeting Nov. 6, the Board of Trustees also voted unanimously to retain President Hill for the next five years, through 2026. Trustees recognized the accomplishments that have occurred according to the vision of 150 Forward, including increased philanthropy, new strategic partnerships and the expansion of Chautauqua’s reach and impact through innovations such as CHQ Assembly, the institution’s multi-platform digital presence, and an expansion of Chautauqua’s presence in Washington, D.C.
Hill’s new term includes critical dates and celebrations related to the Institution’s sesquicentennial in 2024, and ensures that his continued service as president will include nearly all of the 10-year vision for the organization outlined in the 2019–28 strategic plan.
“The trustees continue to be impressed by Michael’s vision and leadership, and by the team he has assembled to thoughtfully steward Chautauqua Institution’s mission, especially amid the historic challenges of the past two years,” said Candace L. Maxwell, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We enthusiastically approved his contract extension in recognition of the many achievements of the past five years, our confidence in his continued leadership and our commitment to providing stability as his administration plans for a particularly important period in the Institution’s history. Guided by the strategic plan, this team has positioned Chautauqua to begin its next 150 years from a place of significant strength and optimism.”
Hill, whose service at Chautauqua began in 2017, is the 18th President of the nearly 150-year-old Institution. During his tenure to date, he has overseen the approval and implementation of the strategic plan, 150 Forward, that will see Chautauqua through and beyond its 150th birthday in 2024; directed the Institution’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its associated challenges, including a significant investment in mission-driven online properties via CHQ Assembly while ensuring the financial sustainability of the organization; ushered in a partnership with the Jefferson Project to drive a science-based solution for an impaired Chautauqua Lake in collaboration with local leaders; opened a new location for Chautauqua in Washington, D.C., to provide a consistent presence among Chautauqua’s thought leadership partners while growing its philanthropic arm; oversaw the successful completion of the $41.5 million Chautauqua Amphitheater project; developed a new generation of Institution leaders in key strategic areas; and expanded the Institution’s engagement efforts within the Chautauqua community, with its regional neighbors and with national partners. With the support of the Institution, Hill is also completing doctoral studies in education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.
“I am deeply grateful for the confidence the Board of Trustees has expressed in my leadership and that of my team through this extension of my service as Chautauqua’s President,” Hill said. “It is a tremendous honor to serve as a steward of this great Institution, and I’m excited about all Chautauqua can accomplish as it heads toward its 150th birthday and beyond. Serving as Chautauqua’s President is a great privilege and responsibility, and I look forward to working with all those who love Chautauqua to propel the Institution to an even brighter future.”
New Buildings and Grounds Facility
The board also voted to replace and relocate Institution maintenance facilities that have been in desperate disrepair. The new facility, largely funded by philanthropy, will improve efficiency and breathe new life into the care of Institution’s treasured and historic grounds. Groundbreaking on the project is expected in the coming months, with the new facility ready for use by early 2023, pending the sourcing of materials. The project cost will be announced publicly after the project bidding process is completed.
“Our buildings and grounds teams are the unsung heroes of Chautauqua, and I’m overjoyed that we are going to provide them a modern facility that is worthy of their incredible efforts,” Hill said. “The patchwork of facilities used to support this team’s work has fallen below the standards of the world-class organization that Chautauqua is and aspires to be. This project is a prime example of the philosophy of our board and administration to effectively address instances of deferred maintenance to better serve our patrons and community while creating the environment to be an employer of choice.”
The new facility will be located on Institution property on the east side of Chautauqua County Route 33, also known as Chautauqua-Stedman Road, providing easy access for Chautauqua staff and Institution vendors.
“This project is a symbol of Chautauqua’s values and aspirations, as we invest in the critical infrastructure needed to provide a world-class experience to all who come to this magical place. It’s also a statement that we want our work environments to match the professionalism and artistry of the people that use them,” Hill said. “I’m grateful to the donors on this project and to all our community members who recognize and support the staff who deliver on Chautauqua’s mission every day.”
Once the new facility is operational, decommissioned buildings will be replaced in alignment with the Institution’s master plan, a guideline for the highest and best possible uses of Institution lands and built environments. A key component of the master plan is a reimagining of the corridor that bounds Chautauqua’s primary entrance on NYS Route 394. This area, currently occupied by operations facilities and parking lots, is highly trafficked by summer patrons and Chautauqua County residents alike. The master plan calls for a friendlier and more efficient “welcome” area alongside patron-centric spaces featuring retail, foodservice and patron services offerings.
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