Chautauqua Institution


Through a unique mix of professional and pre-professional programs, Chautauqua celebrates, encourages and studies the fine and performing arts in a community where artists and audiences live together as one.

The artistic diversity that is Chautauqua Institution includes the 74-member Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, drawing professional musicians from around the world for 21 concerts during the summer season.

Chautauqua Opera Company, the oldest continuously producing summer opera company in the United States, builds on its rich history with both professional performances and the education of young singers on the verge of careers in opera.

Chautauqua Theater Company brings together internationally known actors, directors, designers and writers with 19 emerging artists to produce a vibrant summer of work.

The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution extends throughout the Chautauqua community with professional and student exhibitions in two renovated gallery facilities, a lecture series and special events.

The Chautauqua Dance program presents classical and contemporary ballet as well as modern dance performances by the Charlotte Ballet in residence and Chautauqua’s renowned School of Dance. The Chautauqua Music Festival — designated an All-Steinway Music Festival — provides a unique learning experience for students from around the world to study in the school’s instrumental, voice and piano programs.

Our Popular Entertainment events feature a dynamic mix of artists, musicians, entertainers and speakers, and attract crowds to our our 4,000-seat, open-air Amphitheater. The Family Entertainment Series features free performances each Tuesday evening (during the Chautauqua season) in Smith-Wilkes Hall. This series appeals to family members of all ages providing fun, interactive entertainment ranging from music to mime, puppetry, dance and much more. Sunday Entertainment is free at Chautauqua; your free admission to the grounds includes an afternoon show in the Amphitheater.

The Logan Chamber Music series, held in the intimate setting of Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, offers a variety of chamber music experiences each season with a diverse selection of guest ensembles of both instrumental and vocal music, ranging from medieval chant to Brahms to jazz to the contemporary music of our time.

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will celebrate its 86th season in 2014. The season opens Saturday, June 28, and is greatly anticipated as the CSO will be entering the formal stage of its Music Director search process. Eight Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Music Director Candidates will be featured and the public will be invited to participate in the selection process through surveys available after every concert. Founded in 1929, the CSO continues its legacy as the center of musical life at Chautauqua. Performing 21 concerts in the Amphitheater including two concerts accompanying Chautauqua Dance, the orchestra also provides the musicians that perform for Chautauqua Opera. Join us in 2014 as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra’s next Music Director is chosen to help envision the future of orchestral music in our community!


Our Mission

The mission of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is to enrich the lives of our audience within and beyond the Institution’s gates through the power of symphonic music.

We seek to serve the purposes of the Institution by inspiring, educating and engaging a diverse and growing audience; by serving as an integral part of the Chautauqua community; by exemplifying artistic excellence in presenting programs that celebrate both tradition and innovation; and by demonstrating sound financial stewardship.

Special Studies
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Special Studies offers subjects ranging from child and youth development, music, education, religion and philosophy, to fitness, health, and personal and professional development.
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School of Dance
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The Chautauqua Ballet program, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, is well known for the unique opportunity it affords students to study with master teachers within a small studio environment.
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School of Art
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The School of Art presents the opportunity for the kind of sustained and focused study in studio art not available in academic settings.
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Internationally known actors, directors, designers and writers join nineteen emerging artists drawn from the nation’s top training programs to form a unique company that produces a vibrant summer of work in the historic Bratton Theater.
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Each summer we enroll 80 of the most promising young instrumentalists from here and abroad to join us for an exciting summer of music making.
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The program offers an exceptional and exciting mixture of traditional and innovative classes, concerts and an artist certificate program.
>> Find out more

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The Chautauqua Institution Voice Department is a seven-week intensive educational program that seeks to offer the highest caliber of training for the young singer, 18 and older.
>> Find out more

The Chautauqua Ballet program, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, is well known for the unique opportunity it affords students to study with master teachers within a small studio environment. The faculty at Chautauqua will often help place students into major companies throughout the U.S. through their many contacts. An important part of the program is the possibility for young dancers to perform (with live music) in the 4,000-seat Amphitheater.

The School of Dance facilities include four large teaching and rehearsal studios — the Carnahan-Jackson Studios. The dancers are housed in a well-supervised dormitory which is adjacent to the studios. The summer of 2009 saw the completion of new buildings which house the costume shop as well as faculty/staff housing. The center core of the Carnahan-Jackson Studios has been reconfigured to provide for enhanced administrative and production offices as well as proper locker rooms for both professional and student dancers.

The ballet curriculum at Chautauqua is designed for talented students who wish to pursue careers as professional ballet dancers. Intensive training in classical ballet will be continued in rehearsals leading to performances. All classes feature live music. In spite of a rigorous schedule of classes and rehearsals, students will have ample time to enjoy recreational activities at Chautauqua including symphony concerts, professional ballet company performances, Friday Night specials and any number of recitals and lectures at no extra cost.


“The chance to dance in Chautauqua has been one of the most beneficial in my career. It has helped me to find confidence in myself as an individual artist and has shown me what living the life of a dancer really means. The people, place and all of the treasures of Chautauqua have contributed so much in my training as a dancer. My passion for dance has grown immensely because of it. I would never trade my summer here for anything.”

Sarah Grace Lee 
Apprentice Dancer 2011
School of American Ballet
"Chautauqua is an intimate program where you develop close relationships with incredible, world class teachers and the talented dancers you're surrounded by. You have the opportunity to explore different styles of dance and perform diverse repertoire for a wonderful, engaged audience. It's a unique experience that you can't find at any other summer intensive."

Alexandra Heier
Apprentice Dancer, 2013 and 2012
Boston Ballet School 


Chautauqua Connections
Audition & Application Information

June 21—August 9, 2014Applications Due: April 15, 2014

From the Artistic Director

Artists need other serious artists if they are going to exceed their individual possibilities. For almost every artist, conviction without meaningful dialogue has critical limitations. That genuine exchange among serious artists is precisely what I have aimed for in developing the Chautauqua School of Art over the past 28 summers. Everything about the structure of the program—the faculty invited to participate, the students selected, even the layout of the studios—is geared toward that end.

Describing an underlying sensibility held by a diverse group of students and faculty is difficult. However, there are common threads in terms of the artists, young and old, who have associated themselves with this program. One unifying characteristic is a belief in stepping outside the confining box of what one already knows.

Consistently the artists here have had faith in both tradition and in discovery. At the same time, they have believed that tradition for its own sake, as well as novelty for its own sake, are hollow – each devoid of meaning without the other. Matisse once wrote that “When an artist doesn’t know how to prepare for the time of flowering, by work which bears little resemblance to the final result, he has a short future.”

Matisse also said that “When an artist who has arrived fails to get back to the soil from time to time, he begins to go around in circles, repeating, until by this very repetition, curiosity is extinguished.” These two notions form the core of what the artists at the Chautauqua School of Art attempt to bring together during two intensive months every summer.

The School of Art offers serious young artists a chance to give themselves over to a sustained period of exploration. The emphasis is on a period of study in depth with a limited number of selected instructors and a close-knit group of students. Repeatedly students have commented that one thing they realize during the summer is that it takes several weeks of intense involvement for the work, the ideas and the experience to ferment, and by the second half of the summer things really begin to come together. For this reason, the program does not compromise the length of the session, nor does it permit part-time study.

The studio program is enhanced by a variety of outstanding visiting artists who contribute to the overall experience, and students may sign up for critiques with any of the 20 or more full-time faculty and visiting artists who participate in the program during the course of the summer. However, beyond critiques, the focus is on concentrated study with the resident faculty. “I learned more about art and myself in two months here than in two years in college,” is a statement heard repeatedly at the end of the summer. This is because the concerns here are different – the emphasis is on continuity of experience and rigorous exploration and study in the students’ major areas, where they are usually working from 9 a.m. until midnight. Students and faculty live on the grounds of the Institution. They get to know one another well. They eat together, work together in the studios every day, talk with one another about their work whenever they’re out of the studios – there is a communal nature to the collaborative dialogue that develops – a sense of common struggle and shared experience.

The faculty at Chautauqua, though often nationally recognized and always highly respected, is selected, before anything else, because of their deep-rooted conviction that art is a lifelong process of education—a rigorous grounding combined with persevering exploration. It is this conviction that provides art students with a genuine educational experience in the midst of an extremely complex art world—an experience that, while not alienating students from that world, allows for the kind of commitment, awareness and authenticity to also see beyond it. In the end, students often find a connection, support one another on a deep level, and collectively exceed their individual possibilities.

Artistic Director

Advisory Council to the Artistic Director











A summer studying music at Chautauqua Institution's Music Festival is like no other educational experience. More than any other place in the world, Chautauqua blends music, dance, theater, visual arts, opera, a distinguished lecture platform, leisure activities and religion for a wonderfully diverse public.

At Chautauqua a student lives as an integral member of the 7,000 resident population. The music festival's facilities, with new instruction and performance spaces, are now complete. This includes 24 custom teaching studios, 40 air-conditioned practice studios and two new state-of- the-art recital halls with flexible seating and staging.

The schools of music, dance, theater and art, are represented by professional counterparts. Students are encouraged to freely attend opera, symphony, theater and galleries throughout the duration of the festival. Chautauqua’s famous Victorian grounds, border a 17-mile lake providing a superb atmosphere to study and relax with other professional and student artists from the fine and performing arts.

At Chautauqua, the programs are designed for exceptional students from ages 17 to 25. The festival is akin to a professional experience and students need to be prepared to undertake the demands of the seven-week curriculum. I strongly believe no music student’s career would be complete without at least one visit to this extraordinary environment and festival. Be prepared for a life-changing experience. Visit this web site for schedule updates and to learn more about the summer school music program at the Chautauqua Institution.

Oliver Dow
Managing Director
Chautauqua Music Festival




June 21 - August 12, 2014

The MSFO is a major component of the curriculum and attracts musicians from leading music programs across the United States and around the world. Timothy Muffitt, music director and conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony and the Lansing Symphony, is the principal conductor for the six-concert series by the MSFO.

tim m 2013Each summer we enroll 80 of the most promising young instrumentalists from here and abroad to join us for an exciting summer of music making. Our students are typically 18 to 28 and enrolled in (or recently graduated from) undergraduate or graduate studies. On occasion, we do admit a high school student who is advanced enough and ready to undertake seven weeks of intensive study. There are no auditions for seating, all sections are rotated for each concert.

We consider orchestral, private lessons and chamber music each to be vital components of the instrumental program and our schedule illustrates this. The orchestra rehearses daily for the majority of the seven weeks and performs its concerts in Chautauqua’s 4,000-seat Amphitheater. Each instrumentalist receives six private lessons with a member of the faculty and is scheduled for a minimum of 12 hours of reserved practice time each week. There are 2 distinct phases of chamber music for every student to participate in. Most students are engaged by an integrated three-phase mock audition component comprising of: psychology, performance and debriefing providing priceless insight into the professional road ahead. String players should note that for much of the seven weeks there is usually a luthier on hand to assist with repairs as necessary.

"Chautauqua was such a wonderful, fun, and intense summer. The MSFO is a training ground for what to expect if you're pursuing music as a profession. The teachers are amazing, and the experience is one I will never forget"

Kathryn Bradley, double bass | Peabody Conservatory of Music

“There is no place like Chautauqua on earth. Nowhere else does one get the opportunity to interact and collaborate with outstanding musicians, ballet dancers, singers, artists and actors.”

Ben Buergel | Michigan State University

The Music School Festival Orchestra is underwritten by the Hultquist Foundation of Jamestown, NY


In 2014, the concerts are scheduled for
June 30, July 7, July 14, July 21, August 4 and August 11.

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The Piano Program

June 21 - July 27, 2014

Chautauqua Piano 2014 will be a dynamic, 5-week program for a select group of young pianists, ages 18-28. Whether your aim for summer study is to learn repertoire, prepare for an audition or recital, hone your competition skills, gain technical facility, interact with peers and teachers to gain new ways of exploring music, or simply to enact change, Co-Directors Nicola Melville and John Milbauer invite you to consider the many possibilities that Chautauqua Piano affords.

The resident faculty provides a weekly foundation of a unified but open approach to music making. In addition to private lessons, the faculty will lead performance classes that explore topics ranging from the specific (the relationship between physical breath and phrasing; different approaches to the use of weight in piano sound) to more general concepts (finding your unique voice as a performer; creating performance opportunities, the benefits of interdisciplinarity, developing a professional niche in the music world).

Chautauqua Piano 2014 is unique in the world of summer piano programs also due to our tremendous guest faculty who visit throughout the summer for residencies ranging from three days to one week, during which they will each perform a recital/concerto, give public master classes, and interact with students in private Q&A sessions; many guests will teach private lessons, as well. Guest faculty represent a broad range of backgrounds, pedagogical approaches, and repertoire, and demonstrate both traditional and innovative ways of being successful as a pianist today. There will be opportunities for all students to have significant interaction with each of our guests.

Chautauqua Piano is an integral part of a larger Institution that provides evening symphony, dance, opera, and pops concerts in the 4000-seat open-air Amphitheater; daily themed lectures by world-renowned speakers; a professional theater company and a theater conservatory; schools of art and dance; multiple galleries, and countless other offerings. Students are offered free tickets to most events, and are encouraged by our piano department calendar to explore the wider artistic and intellectual world of the Chautauqua Institution.

Finally, a significant component of students' experience at Chautauqua is the wonderfully warm and supportive community. Public classes and competitions are often very well attended and provide the opportunity for students to develop skills in audience interaction and audience building. Students in past summers have developed deep friendships with the general public and each other that have continued long after our program ends.

"Chautauqua means a lot to me, because it is the place where I decided to be a musician. The superb creative guidance of the piano faculty, perfect facilities, beautiful surroundings, and the warm and supportive community all created an unforgettable experience."

Magdalena Ondicova - Slovakia

"In my view, the Chautauqua Institution has a magical atmosphere of musical inspiration, dedication and love for music making. All these and more aspects make the piano program in Chautauqua a unique opportunity for many young pianists. I found myself strongly impressed by the high level of piano performance by the students and the remarkable teaching approaches in Chautauqua Institution."

Alexander Gavrylyuk

"The Chautauqua Piano Program is an outstanding institution. The curriculum is rigorous yet intensely supportive and nurturing. A wonderful feeling of community and inclusion pervades all aspects of Chautauqua life, with great and frequent interaction between the faculty and students. The beautiful surroundings and a myriad of non-musical activities inspire and encourage all. For a serious piano student, there is no better way to spend a summer!"

Jon Nakamatsu

June 21 - August 8, 2014

The Chautauqua Institution Voice Department is a seven-week intensive educational program that seeks to offer the highest caliber of training for the young singer, 18 and older. Under the leadership of Marlena Kleinman Malas, a select group of singers study, coach and perform in an idyllic setting on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State. Voice lessons, role preparation, diction classes and vocal coachings are guided by a full-time staff of voice teachers, coaches and a resident stage director, along with numerous guest artists.

voice aboutAt the start of the summer we will gather in McKnight Hall for the annual sing-in. Each singer presents one aria or song. Choose something you feel best showcases your voice. At the end of the summer, we will have the sing-out where students typically perform whatever they like. Pieces have included arias, songs, music theater, ensembles, comedy or sentimental favorites.

voice about2We perform two operas each summer. The first opera, Werther by Massenet, will be multi-cast and performed on July 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2014 in 250-seat Fletcher Music Hall with reduced instrumental ensemble and piano, full costumes, props and lighting. The second opera, La Rondine by Puccini, will be performed on August 4, 2014 in the 4,000-seat Chautauqua Amphitheater with the Music School Festival Orchestra, full staging, costumes and props.

"Chautauqua is a unique program that allows the most promising voice students to work daily with some of the most influential voice faculty in the world, all in a nurturing environment that allows for intense improvement in all aspects of singing. That combined with the beautiful location, and close knit community makes for an experience that can not be rivaled"

Christopher Tiesi, Curtis Institute of Music

The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution (VACI) includes the Chautauqua School of Art, the galleries of the Strohl Art Center, the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden and the visual arts lecture series. Our galleries present contemporary as well as historically based exhibitions. VACI encourages engagement with an expansive range of critical issues in the visual arts, and attracts distinguished exhibitors and renowned guest artists and faculty. Our students come from top art schools and smaller programs internationally. A nationally respected forum for engaging with a broad range of content at the highest levels possible, VACI offers an unparalleled experience with artists and their work.

A singular expression of Chautauqua's artistic capacity and creativity

The Romeo and Juliet Project was the first of a three-year approach to inter-arts collaboration. In 2014, the 200th anniversary of the publication of the two-volume journal recounting the Lewis and Clark expedition, we will produce Go West!, and in 2015, Orff’s powerful Carmina Burana. Each project will arise authentically from within our artistic programs — the expressive power from Chautauqua’s own artists.

The purpose of this effort is to illuminate for Chautauquans, for the media and for art lovers in general the extraordinary artistic capacity of this Institution. We invest in art and in artists. We believe that art and artists are keys to a society in touch with the human condition, with a capacity for empathy and open to critical reflection. We believe that unlocking imagination is vital to human development and genuine communication and to global development and competition.

— Excerpted from Chautauqua President Tom Becker's
introduction to the Chautauqua Inter-arts Collaboration initiative, Winter 2013

2014 Collaborators:

Music small Opera small Theater small Dance small Visual small


Latest News

Go West: The Original Show from The Chautauquan Daily on Vimeo.

Thoughts from Director Andrew Borba

andrewGo West! investigates the American impulse to pioneer. It particularly explores the American impulse to expand our life, whether that be physical travel into unknown territory or an expansion of knowledge, wealth, influence, art, experience. Historically rooted in an escape from prosecution in Europe or the pursuit of opportunity in rich and unharvested lands, the American spirit came of age in Jefferson’s presidency when the Louisiana Purchase opened the possibility of a broad-shouldered nation that from ocean to ocean could stand firmly as a leader in the Enlightenment’s philosophy of the great experiment of liberty. There is an undeniable, strong ache underlying this drive to expand our horizons: an ache of ambition, hunger, a greater life — an ache of solitude. Our history is a mixture of the individual and the community, of unity and solitude, of both light and dark forces and events, and Go West! will explore the complexity of shades created by these polarities.

"There's always some place in the West, where something wonderful is about to happen.... And even when we turn that around... even when we say, well, something has been lost, what's lost is always in the West."

Richard White
past president of the Organization of American Historians

View our stories and blog posts below to gain insight into Andrew's creative process and watch this project come together.


Self-improvement through lifelong learning was at the heart of the impulse that motivated Americans and founded Chautauqua in 1874. That tradition continues today through a variety of programs aimed at the exploration and exchange of ideas in an atmosphere that encourages civil discourse.

The morning lecture series is Chautauqua’s signature program, welcoming distinguished scientists, authors, educators and other experts in fields such as arts and humanities, foreign affairs and religion, to engage with Chautauqua audiences on matters that shape our world.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), the oldest continuous book club in America, introduced learning by correspondence and has enrolled over a half-million readers.

Today, CLSC books address critical and ethical issues of the day through a variety of genres, with an author presenting a different book each week of the summer season.

The Chautauqua Writers’ Center brings focus to writing as an art form with nationally recognized authors in residence offering workshops, readings and lectures, as well as an annual preseason Writers’ Festival, to writers at all levels of development.

Each season, Chautauqua Institution Archives also presents its Heritage Lecture Series, which combines the research of Archives staff with notable historians and Chautauqua scholars in order to explore the rich history of Chautauqua and its effect on American culture.


The literary arts are represented at Chautauqua by a variety of programs.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle presents weekly roundtable lectures by distinguished, nationally known authors; book reviews and discussion sessions programmed by the CLSC and the CLSC Alumni Association; and a Young Readers program.

The Chautauqua Writers’ Center coordinates workshops, free weekly readings, lectures by its writers-in-residence, a yearly pre-season Writers’ Festival, and the Chautauqua literary journal. Books featured in these programs, in addition to books by the Writers’ Center faculty, are always available at Chautauqua’s Smith Memorial Library, and the Chautauqua Bookstore.

Special literary events are featured in the Amphitheater and other Chautauqua locations throughout the season.

Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming.

Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

2014 CLSC
Vertical Theme

In unity with Chautauqua’s inter-arts collaboration on American expansionism, books chosen as Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selections in 2014 will also celebrate the themes of exploration and discovery. In most cases, the book will complement the theme of its corresponding week. In all selections, exceptional writing will define the authors honored by the CLSC.


2014 CLSC Selections

Rosenblatt Roger CLSC 062614 cover

Week One
Roger Rosenblatt
The Boy Dectective


My Foreign Cities 
wins 2014 Chautauqua Prize

Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce “My Foreign Cities” (Liveright) by Elizabeth Scarboro as the 2014 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Scarboro receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua. She will host a public reading and book signing at a date to be determined this summer on the Institution grounds.  

“I’m deeply honored to have a small part in Chautauqua’s long, vibrant tradition of education in the arts, and I'm thrilled to get the chance to visit the Chautauqua community,” said Scarboro, who has also written two novels for children and essays for The New York Times and the Bellevue Literary Review. “The prize will give me the chance to begin new work, and will bring recognition to the subject of my book — those who face illness and loss at a young age. I’m so grateful for both.”

The Chautauqua Prize, this year awarded for the third time, is an annual prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.

A portrait of a young couple approaching mortality with reckless abandon, “My Foreign Cities” is Scarboro’s memoir of her life with her first husband Stephen, whose cystic fibrosis would be present in the background throughout their time together — and then ever more insistently in the foreground. Chautauqua Prize readers called the book “A deeply moving, incredibly honest story of embracing life while confronting certain death,” and described Scarboro’s prose as “poetic.”


Press Kit:
Full press release | My Foreign Cities cover image | The Chautauqua Prize logo (pdf) 


The Chautauqua Prize 2014 Finalists






A History of the Present Illness: Stories
Louise Aronson

Sea of Hooks
Lindsay Hill
McPherson & Company

The Boy Detective:
A New York Childhood


The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency
James Tobin
Simon & Schuster

Margaret Wrinkle
Grove Press


Press Kit:
Full press release | The Chautauqua Prize logo (pdf) 


Chautauqua Institution, the pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, is pleased to invite 2014 submissions for The Chautauqua Prize, a distinguished national literary prize for a work of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction.

Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize draws upon Chautauqua's considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The author receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Eligible books for the 2014 prize will have been published in English in the United States during 2013. Nominations will be accepted beginning Sept. 9, 2013, from publishers, agents, authors, and readers. The deadline for nomination is December 31, 2013. Longlist finalists will be notified in February 2014, at which time authors will be asked to select their summer visit time to Chautauqua should they be awarded the prize. Shortlist finalists and the winner will be notified in April and May 2014. Chautauqua Institution will celebrate the winner in the summer of 2014, at a time selected by the winner and Chautauqua Institution.

Chautauqua’s commitment to the literary arts is immersed in its rich history. In addition to the 135-year-old Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, Chautauqua’s literary arts programming includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, and lectures by prominent authors on the craft and art of writing.

The Chautauqua Prize is awarded through a two-tiered judging process that includes Chautauquans who are writers, publishers, critics, editors, librarians, booksellers, and literature and creative writing educators. Each nominated book is evaluated by three reviewers, with the final selection made by a three-member, independent, anonymous jury.

Updated Sept. 6, 2013




The Chautauqua Writers' Center is a lively community of writers at all levels of development who cultivate the courage, craft and vision necessary to grow as artists under the tutelage of nationally recognized authors. Started in 1987, the original core program of eighteen summer workshops, readings and lectures has grown to include the Chautauqua Writers' Festival, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, and an active support organization, Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends.

Whether you are an accomplished writer looking for peer support, a novice striving to take your work to the next level, or simply an avid reader in love with all things literary, we welcome you and hope to see you at one of our many programs.

Writers' Center Programs at-a-glance

  • Readings on the Porch — Each Sunday from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., the week's poet and prose writers-in-residence read from their own work on the porch of Alumni Hall. (free)

  • Brown-bag Lectures — Each Tuesday and Friday from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m., the week’s poet and prose writers-in-residence (respectively) offer a public lecture on the porch of Alumni Hall. Bring your lunch! (free)

  • Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends — $30 annual membership in this literary arts support group includes a copy of the journal Chautauqua, membership in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) and perks such as social events. Literary Arts Friends programs include,amonst others, the Chautauqua Poetry Contest and Hauser Prize.

Summer Workshops

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author (writer-in-residence) in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.)

For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein.

Registration begins in April. Call the ticket ofice at 716.357.6250 to register by phone or register online at You may also register at one of our ticketing windows at our Main Gate Welcome Center.

Weekly prose and poetry workshops have been the core of the Chautauqua Writers' Center for 24 years. Faculty members are selected not only for their national reputations and the quality of their work, but also for their ability to inspire developing writers to grow in their craft.

Chautauqua provides a wide variety of services of worship and programs that express the Institution's Christian heritage as well as its interfaith commitment. The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning for Sunday School teachers. While founders Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent were Methodists, other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward, and today Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical — as well as interfaith — in spirit and practice.



Located on the shores of beautiful Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York, Chautauqua offers a variety of recreational opportunities that further enrich the mind, body and spirit and bring together families and the larger community.

Chautauqua’s programs for youth present a diversity of activity, in settings varied and historic. From pre-school to day camp, from sports instruction to informal youth centers, from enrichment classes to entertainment, and from reading to experiences in the arts, these programs offer opportunities to explore the Chautauqua experience. At the same time, youth are encouraged to grow in independence, make choices, take responsibility and celebrate family time, all in the safe and supportive community that is Chautauqua.


Privately Owned Accommodation Specials

Most rental units at Chautauqua Institution are privately owned. The following special offers are posted by individual property owners. Click here for specials available at the Institution-owned Athenaeum Hotel.

If you are member of our web-based accommodations service and are interested in listing a special on this page, please e-mail your special to Myra Peterson ( Listing should include: name of accommodation, contact person, address of property, phone number, e-mail and website (optional) and a brief description of the special (50 word max).


Special Offer for Week 9 Only
Saturday August 23, an over night pass is included in a week long gate pass purchase at no extra charge.

On a typical afternoon in Bestor Plaza, one can find Chautauqua’s Community Band entertaining a crowd, children selling lemonade or playing an instrument, newsboys selling the daily newspaper and families gathering for picnics.

Whether you are a year-round resident or a first-time visitor, Chautauqua is a vibrant community that encourages exploration of the natural and built environment and engagement with your neighbors.

The Chautauqua Community page is designed to keep the public informed on community news throughout the year and provide basic information on services, environmental initiatives and volunteer organizations.

Chautauqua Institution

A 300-acre community located in rural western New York adjoining Chautauqua Lake, Chautauqua Institution performs many of the normal municipal functions, including the provision of public water and sewer, a police force, a volunteer fire department, emergency medical services, health clinic and a daily newspaper, as well as the maintenance of roads, gardens and public buildings. Click here for a full list of services available to the public.

Chautauqua Institution contains over 1,000 parcels of private property as well as over 100 public facilities. 

onthegroundsThe “On the Grounds” section of the Chautauqua Institution website is designed to keep community members informed on the status of Institution projects, major initiatives considered by the Board of Trustees and environmental issues. Also provided is a menu of resources for property owners, including Institution rules and regulations, Architectural Review Board information, Institution staff contact information and FAQ.

“On the Grounds” will continue to provide updates throughout the off-season.


Chautauqua is committed to practicing responsible environmental stewardship and sustainability in the management of its property and as a member of the broader Chautauqua Lake Watershed community.

Current stewardship practices include recycling, composting, tree management and planting, purchase of electric trams and bio-diesel buses, Green Design standards and rewards, an energy efficiency audit and upgrades to Institution facilities, wildlife habitat preservation, and use of recycled and recyclable products.

In 2003 Chautauqua Lake was listed by New York State as “impaired waters” under the requirements of the U.S. Clean Water Act. Nutrients are the principal cause of the impairment. Storm water delivers nutrients into the lake either as phosphorus or as nitrogen contained within the chemistry of the storm water or as attachments to sediment that flows along with the storm water.

Chautauqua Institution is in a unique position to control our community’s impact on the lake. The Institution controls 100 percent of the stormwater runoff from its land without having to manage water problems presented by others.

Chautauqua Lake is critical to a strong sense of place and community for those at Chautauqua Institution and lake residents, but human impact is taking its toll.

Chautauqua Institution is committed to alleviating the stressors that are impacting Chautauqua Lake. With careful planning and dedication we are striving to minimize our impact on this beloved and important resource. Ours is a long-term commitment to improving the water quality of the lake and the natural environment in which we live.

Current Actions

  • Chautauqua Institution is currently implementing significant efforts to alleviate
  • pressure on the lake. These include:
  • Implementing a comprehensive and detailed Drainage Management Plan to reduce the amount of storm water runoff and nutrients entering the lake
  • Restoring a healthy shoreline through our Sustainable Shoreline Action Plan
  • Composting
  • Updating the Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Improving codes and regulations to minimize runoff
  • Strengthening links to community environmental stewards
  • Planning for the future

Chautauqua Institution is a summer community located in southwestern New York State on Chautauqua Lake. Chautauqua specializes in the arts, education, religion and recreation and hosts over 2,200 events and 100,000 guests each summer.

Chautauqua is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

Read More


Listed below are some of the questions that are asked most often about the Chautauqua Institution and this Web site. If you can't find an answer to your question, please send us an email.


Chautauqua is holding an online talent competition.

Winners Announced!

Chautauquans from all over have shared their talents with the Chautauqua community for a chance to win! A big THANK YOU to our 38 entries and over 1,580 voters!


First PlaceSecond PlaceThird PlaceDrawing At-Large
Mallory Twist, 404 votes Dallas Marsh, 319 votes Guilia, 278 votes Bijou Miller
Untitled Children's Book
"It began like any ordinary Chautauqua morning. The beaming sun pushed its way through the curtains..."
Runners Up
Graciela 239 votes
Julia 147 votes
Gabriel 60 votes
Isabel, Julia and Charlotte 52 votes
Devin and Jimmy 27 votes
Samuel K. Jones 21 votes
Carrie 20 votes
Daniel Boutwell 18 votes
Moses Mark Howden 4 votes




  • First Place: Your choice of:
    • 4 tickets to a show of your choice this summer
    • Dinner for 4 at the Athenaeum Hotel
    • $200 Chautauqua gift card
  • Two runners up: Your choice of:
    • 2 tickets to a show of your choice.
    • $100 Chautauqua gift card
  • Winner at large: One winner of a random drawing of all submissions will receive a $75 Chautauqua gift card




Tag your submission #chqtalent and send it (text, photo, video or audio) in one of the following ways:

  1. Instagram, photo or video to @CHQ1874
  2. Facebook, post the link on the CHQ wall
  3. Email: send us text, photo or youtube video, use
  4. Tweet the link to @CHQ

ALL ENTRIES (no matter how you submit) must be tagged #chqtalent to be included in the contest.

Include your name (last name is optional) and hometown so the submissions can be identified.

Submissions will be accepted from March 14 until  April 10.

 All entries will appear on Chautauqua Instituion's website and must contain family-friendly content appropriate for all ages. Chautauqua Institution reserves the right to determine what is and is not considered family-friendly content.


MartyContestJudge.jpgJudging: Our very own Marty Merkley, vice president and director of programming at Chautauqua, will judge the submissions. Marty’s top 12 picks will be revealed on Thursday, April 10, and put to a community to vote. Voting closes at midnight, April 16. The top three picks will then be announced on Thursday, April 17.


June 27 – August 30

2015lectures thumbJoin us in our 142nd season for an exciting series of speakers and events. Every Summer Chautauqua is host to nine weeks of lecturers and entertainment. A central theme anchors the dialog of the week. Most lecture platforms and much of our entertainment is based directly on, or is tied into the week's theme.