SLIDESHOW: Leaders talk Promise Campaign growth at Foundation dinner

In Miller Park more than 140 years ago, Chautauqua’s pioneers stood and spoke where, on June 26, its current leaders met again.

The Chautauqua Foundation Board of Directors and former directors, the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees, Promise Campaign volunteers and guests gathered in the park to celebrate the ongoing success and future of the Promise Campaign.

“Chautauqua’s position is strong, our ambitions great.  We have committed to meeting the Institution’s extraordinary promise,” said Steve Percy, chair of the Foundation board and co-chair of the Promise Campaign, in greeting those in attendance. “In the years ahead, we will invest in our most precious assets of summer program and facilities, and we will also extend the Chautauqua experience by delivering programs innovatively, enlarging a portfolio of nationally recognized program partners, investing in new staffing, and reaching out to a larger, younger and more diverse audience.

“In short, we will meet our promise as a sustainable, vital, enlivening and year-round force in our national conversation and the lives of all who are and all who would become Chautauquans.”

Past campaigns, Percy said, focused on particular areas in the programs to fund, but this campaign raises money from all fronts for every area, which he believes is its winning characteristic.

“I must say, one of the most great things about this campaign from the fundraising perspective is there isn’t much as a Chautauquan that you’d want to support that isn’t captured inside this campaign,” he said.

Directors and Institution leadership followed with examples of the results of investments made within their programs by generous donors through the Promise Campaign.

Deborah Sunya Moore, associate director of programming, introduced guests to a new Institution program called the Young Playwrights Project. The project started as a collaboration between the Chautauqua Theater Company and the Florida Studio Theatre from Sarasota, Florida, funded by Chautauquan and FST board member Georgia Court.

During the week before the 2015 season, CTC actors produced nine winning plays from local elementary schools and performed two of them for the attendants. The program succeeded, Moore said, in exposing local children both to the arts and to Chautauqua Institution as a place where art is made.

Dinner guests also heard from Betsy Burgeson, the new supervisor of gardens and landscapes, on the various projects she and her crews have worked to implement throughout the spring. Robert Franklin, director of the Department of Religion, spoke about the important work Chautauqua is doing in clergy development.

Toward the end of the program, George Snyder, Foundation director and co-chair of the Promise Campaign, reported that $80 million has been raised so far toward the $98.2 goal.

Institution President Tom Becker then concluded the evening with remarks on Chautauqua’s relevancy.

“This is a place that is irreducible,” Becker said. “We are absolutely original, and absolutely singular and absolutely important in that regard, and there is so little of that in our world.”