Before Annie Griffiths’ lecture at 10:45 a.m. Monday, June 24th, Ted and Betsy Merchant will be thanked for their gifts to Chautauqua Institution. They are being recognized for their contribution to new technological and other improvements in the Amphitheater that will enhance the experience of audience members and speakers alike.
Ted and Betsy Merchant have been longtime attendees and supporters of the Institution. Ted first visited the grounds 64 years ago and introduced Betsy to the Chautauqua lifestyle.
“I have a significant family history there, the place sort of grows on you,” Ted Merchant said. “It’s a part of my life, and now it seems to be a part of Betsy’s life.”
Betsy Merchant said the Institution makes her feel challenged and inspired.
“I look forward to it,” she said. “It is such a unique and special place, I think it’s a privilege to go there.”
The Merchants have supported the Institution for many years. When it comes to their philanthropy, Ted Merchant said, “We largely leave it up to the Chautauqua administration to decide what’s best.”
The new technology and enhancements introduced into the Amphitheater include new live captioning of morning lectures, newly designed stage backdrops, new lecterns that include computer screens and communication links with the backstage staff, as well as a new technology package that will allow the moderator on stage to access questions digitally from the live audience and from off-site viewers.
Ted Merchant hopes that the improvements will help connect more people to Chautauqua Institution, especially those who are not able to physically travel to Chautauqua and be in attendance during the season.
“Not everyone in the world can just come to Chautauqua for three or four weeks,” he said. “A substantial amount of people can turn on their computers and have access.”
Griffiths’ morning lecture will be the first event where these improvements will be utilized. Chautauquans on and off the grounds will get to experience the technological advancements first-hand.
Griffiths is one of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic. She has photographed roughly 150 countries and has worked on numerous magazines and book projects for National Geographic. Griffiths is also the author of Simply Beautiful Photographs, which was recognized as the top photo/art book of the year by both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She is working on two new books.
For information on underwriting opportunities, contact Karen Blozie, senior major gifts officer, at 716-357-6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.