Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts Deborah Sunya Moore relayed the successes and innovations of PAVA to a small crowd of community members during the 9:30 a.m. Leadership Porch Discussion on Wednesday morning, July 25, at the Hultquist Center.
“Our two major overarching themes moving forward are innovation and tradition,” Moore said.
In many areas, Moore said that she and her colleagues have worked to combine tradition and innovation by including “oldies but goodies,” meaning performances by dance and visual arts companies that have been well-received in the past by Chautauquans, as well as new talent in the performance schedules.
“We want to keep raising the bar so that everything we do each year enhances our excellence,” Moore said.
Specifically, Moore said that PAVA is interested in expanding three main initiatives in upcoming years: increasing Chautauqua’s national thought leadership, continuing to press for “gates into gateways,” which helps bring members of the surrounding community into the institution, and increasing diversity in the performing arts.
“I was fretting about the fact that we are growing our diversity in many areas of the arts,” Moore said, “but in one area, it seems that cultural and ethnic diversity is slow to change: the orchestra.”
PAVA decided to provide a catalyst for ethnic and cultural diversity, Moore said, through a diversity fellowship program in collaboration with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. This season, five students from the CCM are spending a summer at Chautauqua and joining the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for select performances.
Another division of the arts that seems to be slow to move in a more diverse direction nationally, Moore said, is opera. The Chautauqua Opera Company has been working towards creating a more inclusive and diverse environment by bringing performers of various backgrounds in through scholarship programs.
In order to expand the surrounding community’s access to opera, PAVA has orchestrated Opera Invasions, which “give Chautauqua a little taste of the opera in surprising places,” Moore said.
The department has also added opera to its arts education program, which has already reached over 4,000 students in the surrounding communities in Chautauqua County.
For the 2019 season’s opera schedule, Moore said that she is excited to announce the combination of tradition and innovation in the pieces that will be performed. Classic operas like The Ghost of Versailles and more modern takes on older pieces such as ¡Figaro! (90210) will be performed throughout the season. In addition, there will be opera performances held in the Athenaeum Hotel Parlor during the first five weeks of the season to further “invade” the Institution with opera.
Moore then discussed the Chautauqua Theater Company’s New Play Workshops that she said have brought national attention and recognition to the Institution.
“It is one of the things that we are most proud of because we have become sought-after by upcoming playwrights,” she said. “We seemed to have found our niche in the helping of this art form.”
The Institution also encourages children to pursue playwriting through the arts education programs and the Young Playwrights Project, in partnership with Florida Studio Theatre, in which children from Chautauqua County schools write plays which are read and judged by members of PAVA and CTC. The top 10 of these plays are then performed by CTC for the children and the Chautauqua community.
“It’s important that Chautauqua offers these experiences to every child, not just those whose parents are willing and able to bring them here for arts education,” Moore said.
Finally, Moore touched on the dance companies who will be performing during the 2019 season. The Charlotte Ballet, who Moore said is a favorite among Chautauquans, will return. Additionally, both the traveling company and the main company of the Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform and potentially premiere one of its new pieces at the Amphitheater.
Moore’s discussion was followed by a short Q-and-A, in which she answered questions about the CSO performances being held at 8:15 p.m. rather than earlier, how PAVA goes about picking the Friday night performances, and if she plans to have ongoing relationships with the new visiting dance companies.
The Chautauqua Leadership Porch Discussions are held at 9:30 a.m. each Wednesday on the Hultquist Center porch. Next week, Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations John Shedd will be discussing the lake and stormwater management.