The Chautauqua Corporation annual meeting began with the presentation of motions from the floor — something that has not happened previously.
The meeting, led by Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees Chairman James A. Pardo Jr., was held Saturday morning in the Hall of Philosophy. It was followed by the second Trustees Open Forum of the summer, which Pardo also led. Issues concerning Institution governance, programming and the Amphitheater were brought up during the meeting.
Two motions were brought before the corporation membership. Bill Follansbee presented the first motion, which read: “The members of the Chautauqua Corporation request the Board of Trustees of Chautauqua Institution to (A) amend the by-laws of the corporation to provide all meetings of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees be open to attendance by members of the corporation; provided however that meetings of portions of meetings may be closed for any reason stated in the New York Open Meetings Law that would permit a meeting of part of meeting to be closed; and (B) also consider other and additional ways, consistent with best practices, to provide for increased transparency in its governance activities.”
The second motion, presented by Hale Oliver, stated: “The members of the Chautauqua Corporation request that the Board of Trustees of Chautauqua Institution, prior to the final award of construction contract for the Amphitheater, consider securing a construction contract based on a design developed by a recognized historic preservation architectural firm with full access to necessary structural and engineering specifications.”
Both motions received objections during Pardo’s call for unanimous consent, but subsequently passed via voice vote.
Pardo said that the Institution’s 1902 charter is clear that only the board of trustees can amend corporation bylaws, referring to the first motion, and that the board would take up the members’ motions for serious consideration.
In its next action the corporation approved by unanimous consent the appointment of CPOA nominee Jim Klingensmith to the Class B Property Owner Trustee seat currently held by Jennifer DeLancey, who is term-limited. Klingensmith begins his term in November.
Rather than the usual format containing a presentation by a speaker from the board or Institution administration, Pardo decided it would be more valuable for the community to open the floor for a question and answer session.
Carol Rizzolo, who lives at 5 Thompson, raised concerns about drug and alcohol use among teenagers on the grounds.
Pardo said it is an issue that the Institution takes very seriously; however, he said, it is also something that parents need to take primary responsibility for.
“It’s a hard issue, and I don’t have an answer for it,” he said.
Rizzolo suggested evening activities and programs for pre-teens and teenagers might help keep teenagers out of trouble.
Multiple questions were raised about the relationship between programming and community at the Institution and which drives the other.
Pardo said that he believes that every Chautauquan has their own programming preferences, whether it is the 10:45 a.m. lecture, the arts programming, or the theme of the week, that brings them back each year.
“We are not a community that decided one day to put on programming. This is a program around which a community evolved,” he said, echoing previous statements by President Tom Becker. “Once you realize that we are programmatically based and once you read the mission statement in our charter, then you understand how the decision-making naturally follows.”
Toni Goldfarb asked about the plans regarding another meeting with historic preservation organization to discuss plans for the Amp.
Pardo said a group representing five preservation organizations was assembled to provide a report on character-defining features of the Amp, and the final version of that report was not received until recently. The board has not had a chance yet to digest the information and recommendations inside that report, so no definite next steps had been decided.
“We are going to do the things we think we need to do in order to make sure that we have explored all the options,” he said.