Maltzes, Marions each donate $1 million for Ampitheater project

Daily file photo
If all funding is in place by the end of 2014, the Amphitheater is set to undergo a $30 million rehabilitation beginning in fall 2015.

It has been called a staple, a landmark and even the heart of the Institution. Located in the center of the grounds, the Amphitheater is as beloved as it is crucial to the Chautauqua experience.

One of the main undertakings of The Promise Campaign is the Amphitheater rehabilitation project, which will focus on both the renovation and renewal of the treasured structure, as well as the endowment to secure the Amp’s sustainability in future years. And this undertaking has been made possible by the generosity of individuals and families such as Milton and Tamar Maltz and Jesse and Cathy Marion, whose families have each donated $1 million to the project.

“Jesse and I are thrilled to be part of the upcoming renovation of the iconic Chautauqua Amphitheater,” Cathy Marion said. “Having grown up in the area and reconnecting all these years later, it is especially heartwarming for me to be involved in such an important and historic renovation.”

Jesse Marion is the founder of Millennium Seismic, a seismic data library company in Canada, as well as Marion Investments Inc. He is also a board member of the Memorial Hermann Foundation and Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital and a trustee of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists foundation.

Cathy Marion’s career has included work in marketing, public relations, corporate publications and event planning for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She said she is excited to see the way the current Amphitheater structure will fuse with modern technology and conveniences to create the finished product.

“The daunting challenge will be to bring the structure into the 21st century while maintaining the integrity of the original design,” she said. “Based on the tremendous amount of careful planning, discussion and consideration that has been done in that pursuit, we are certain that the ‘new and improved’ Amphitheater will maintain its proud stature as the heart and soul of the Chautauqua experience. We greatly look forward the project completion and encourage everyone to revisit Chautauqua to enjoy the impressive updated rendition of the Amphitheater.”

The Maltz family is another part of the Chautauqua community that has made the decision to significantly invest financially in The Promise Campaign and, specifically, the Amphitheater project.

“I think Chautauqua is a survivor and it needs to be protected for its future, and although we love going to the Amphitheater, it needs some more modern aspects,” said Milton Maltz. “Otherwise, what really counts is the people on the stage who tell the stories. We have wonderful information given to all of us who attend. That’s what counts, but the convenience of having a more contemporary auditorium is one that we’re delighted to be able to help.”

Maltz has spent the majority of his career in the broadcasting business, working in both radio and television. Now retired, Maltz said he enjoys being able to invest time and resources into various philanthropic efforts he feels passionately about.

“When we [retired], we decided we needed to do something besides play golf and play bridge,” Maltz said. “We looked at some of the things that needed to be taken care of.”

In addition to founding Malrite Communications Group Inc., the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Maltz Family Foundation, Milton Maltz has also built a theater, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, in Florida, as well as conceptualized and created the acclaimed International Spy Museum of Washington, D.C., in 2002. Additionally, Maltz and his wife are founders of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development .

Maltz said he is proud to make this generous contribution to Chautauqua, in part, because of his admiration for the Institution.

“I like to think of [the project] as perpetuity. I think the product is already as good as it gets,” Maltz said. “But the physical aspects are also important, so when you have both going for you, it’s unbeatable.”