At the seventh Strategic Plan Information Meeting on Thursday, August 8, Chautauqua Institution administrators fleshed out 150 Forward, a series of objectives and cross-cutting imperatives aimed at launching the Institution into its sesquicentennial and forward another 150 years.
The meeting — at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Christ — was led by Institution President Michael E. Hill, board of trustees Chair Jim Pardo and Strategic Planning Working Group Chair Laura Currie.
“This plan is not a plan of our committee, nor of just the board or the administration,” Currie said. “It’s the plan of all of Chautauqua. We really listened … and took your feedback.”
Currie’s 13-member committee led an 18-month data-mining initiative that was condensed into a 160-page executive summary of opportunities and challenges facing the Institution.
Such challenges include increasing competition for leisure time; changes in guest expectations and vacation preferences; low brand recognition; declining health of Chautauqua Lake; affordability; lack of diversity; and talent recruitment and retention.
“ ‘Chautauqua quaint’ isn’t quaint to everyone,” Currie said.
To address these impending challenges, the working group identified opportunities to pursue and synthesized those into four key objectives: optimize the summer season on the grounds; expand Chautauqua’s year-round convening authority; grow and diversify revenue; and drive a comprehensive, science-based solution to the lake’s declining health.
“You should not read into this that we are going to stop caring for our grounds — we will not be doing that,” Hill said, referencing efforts to improve the lake’s condition and its correlation to the Institution’s financial sustainability. “It’s the acknowledgment that a lot of what is attractive to many people is our location next to Chautauqua Lake.”
At the strategic plan meeting, Chautauquans raised concerns about ticket and housing affordability, the need for more arts outreach to area schools and the need for more global conversations. Chautauquans also suggested the Institution extend the nine-week season and forge partnerships with national organizations like NPR.
These objectives reaffirm the Institution’s vision to “create an informed, engaged and renewed public that fosters and actively contributes to a more civil society, nationally and within the various communities represented by its individual constituents and partners,” according to Currie.
Accentuating this vision are four cross-cutting imperatives: strategic partnerships; mobilization of technology; labor and talent solutions; and IDEA — inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Shannon Rozner and Parker Suddeth, a consultant hired by the Institution, lead weekly IDEA Listening Sessions, which consist of open-ended questions designed to facilitate conversation.
The next IDEA Listening Session will be 3:30 p.m. today, August 12 in the Hall of Christ; the next Strategic Plan Information Session will be 3:30 p.m. Thursday, August 15 in the Hall of Christ. Additionally, Chautauquans can voice concerns, leave comments or ask questions about the plan through the online forum at