Chautauqua Board of Trustees Open Forum Draws Low Turnout, Few Questions



Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees Chairman James A. Pardo Jr. fielded only a handful of questions at the first Trustee Open Forum of the summer.

In previous years, the board has held open forums on Saturdays. This year, to give people a time during the week, the meetings have been changed. The first occurred at 9 a.m. Monday. The second will be at 9 a.m. on Aug. 8.

About 25 to 30 people attended the meeting, including several staff members and eight board members. The trustees in attendance were Pardo, Christine Brueschke, Hugh Butler, Bob Jeffrey, Ron Kilpatrick, James Klingensmith, Candy Maxwell and John Milos.

“I think the mood on the grounds is substantially less confrontational this summer than it was last,” Pardo said after the forum. “I think a lot of the issues that people might have, or questions have already been asked and answered in other forums.”

The trustees host conversations every week and Pardo also hosts “office hours” at 4 p.m. every Tuesday at the Main Gate Welcome Center Film Room.

As Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra contracts expire at the end of the year, the CSO and the Institution are in the process of negotiating a new agreement. Fred Zirm, president of the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends and interim director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, asked what information is available about the contracts’ progress and who is representing the Institution in the negotiations.

Pardo said the contracts are still in negotiation, but three in-person meetings are scheduled for the negotiation teams and a federal mediator, the first occurring Thursday. The teams might not need the other two meetings, Pardo said, but they are scheduled if needed. If a vote on the contract is needed in the offseason, a vote can be done electronically.

A lawyer and a financial officer are representing the Institution, Pardo said. Volunteer lawyers and five or six representatives from the CSO are representing the symphony. The board is not involved in the negotiations.

“The process of labor negotiations is not a pretty process, even though these people are your friends and you love the symphony and you love their product and you think of them as part of the community. At the end of the day, this is a union,” Pardo said. “Realize that once every few years, things sort of degenerate. It’s regrettable. It happens. It’s not our first choice. But that’s the process we’re looking at.”

Pardo said although the process might get a little ugly, it shouldn’t wreck anyone’s summer.

Chautauquan Jack Sobel asked about the Institution’s marketing plan; Pardo said the marketing team is constantly evaluating its strategy and reaching out to attract new people to Chautauqua. Renovations and specials at the Athenaeum Hotel are ways to bring in new guests.

The forum ended at 9:25 a.m., at which point Pardo said people could leave if they wanted, or stick around and mingle with board members.

The final question of the meeting was asked by Chautauquan Mary Khosh: Will there be bike racks at the park by Miller Bell Tower?

Pardo’s answer: Yes, there will be.

(Photo by Eslah Attar.)

Rebekah Barnes

The author Rebekah Barnes