Chautauqua Institution administrators led the first of nine information sessions, allowing Chautauquans to engage with the 150 Forward strategic plan — a series of objectives identified by a 13-member committee aimed at launching the Institution into the future — on Thursday in the Hall of Christ.
President Michael E. Hill, Jim Pardo, board of trustees chair, and Laura Currie, chair of the Strategic Planning Working Group, led the presentation, which broke down the working group’s processes and results.
After 18 months of listening sessions, focus-group testing and data mining, the group pinpointed the Institution’s strengths — stable finances, breadth of programming, landscape, family appeal and loyal returner base — and its challenges — lack of diversity and affordability, employee recruitment and retention, low brand recognition and the declining health of Chautauqua Lake. Based on these factors, the group synthesized four objectives — optimize the summer season, expand Chautauqua’s convening authority year-round, drive a comprehensive, science-based approach to improving the lake’s health, and grow and diversify revenue — and four cross-cutting imperatives: strategic partnerships; mobilization of technology; labor and talent solutions; and inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
“The overarching goal of this plan is Chautauqua will convene diverse perspectives and voices to discover and advance the most important, relevant conversations and experiences of our time during the summer assembly season and year-round, on the grounds and beyond,” Currie said.
To accomplish this goal, the Institution will expand its philanthropic efforts into strategic partnerships with larger organizations; increase brand awareness; invest in technology to make Chautauqua more accessible; enhance the customer experience; find science-based solutions to the declining health of the lake; and work to diversify.
Shannon Rozner, chief of staff and vice president of strategic initiatives, led the first IDEA Listening Session last Tuesday in the Hall of Christ. During the listening session, Rozner and Parker Suddeth — a consultant hired by the Institution — asked open-ended questions to facilitate conversation.
Chautauquans shared anecdotes about diversity — or lack thereof — on the grounds and offered suggestions like income-qualified gate passes and reduced electric scooter-rental costs.
“If you want Chautauqua to be more diverse, that is a community-wide response,” Hill said. “If that’s something you expect the (administration) to do, it will fail — plain and simple.”
The next IDEA Listening Session is 3:30 p.m. today, July 1st, in the Hall of Christ. Strategic Plan Information Sessions are 3:30 p.m. every Thursday in the Hall of Christ. The first Master Plan Information Session is 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Hall of Christ.