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About The Program

The Chautauqua Institution is a rich community of ideas, where the arts, education, and religion all blend together to enrich the mind and the spirit. For nine weeks every summer, the Chautauqua Institution is a place where thought and culture converge in an open public platform for discussion and debate. There is no other place quite like it in America.

Chautauqua: An American Narrative captures the unique environment and opportunities provided by the Chautauqua Institution. The program focuses on the contemporary story of Chautauqua today while using the Institution's rich history to provide context and perspective. It is an exploration of this uniquely American experience and its pervasive-- yet sometimes forgotten-- place in American culture and history.

Chautauqua: An American Narrative is an exploration of the Chautauqua Institution. It showcases the places and activities that make Chautauqua such a unique destination. The program highlights each of the ‘four pillars' of Chautauqua: the arts, education, recreation, and religion. Through a mix of interviews, captured moments, and stunning original visuals, the program illuminates the story and place that is the Chautauqua Institution.

Featured in the program are outdoor locations including Chautauqua Lake, Bestor Plaza, and the Arts Quad; historic landmarks like the Athenaeum Hotel and Bratton Theater; and vital structures including the Amphitheater and Hall of Philosophy. These locations are much more than simply buildings and places; they are each central to what makes Chautauqua unique. Through these locations viewers learn about important aspects of Chautauqua including the 10:45 Lecture Series, Chautauqua Theater Company, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, and many more. They represent parts of the whole that Chautauqua offers to its visitors.

Unique voices share their perspectives on what defines the Chautauqua experience. Program interviewees include visiting speakers and artists, long time Chautauquans, and Chautauqua staff. The people interviewed represent a diverse offering of opinions and views on the place. Interviewees include former Congressman Bill Clinger, whose family has been coming to Chautauqua since almost the beginning; Chautauqua President Thomas Becker; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and historian and author David McCullough. Also included are visiting chaplain Rev. Otis Moss III, world-renowned pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, Washington Post Columnist E.J. Dionne, guest lecturer and NASA engineer Kobie Boykins, among many others.

Through the collection of voices and images, Chautauqua: An American Narrative attempts to tell the story of what Chautauqua is today and capture what it has meant to American society since its founding in 1874.
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