Chautauqua Institution opens D.C. office, seeks year-round programming
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Chautauqua Institution is well-known for its world-class performances, lectures and recreation at its Western New York campus. But as the non-profit approaches its 150th anniversary in 2024, leaders are planting a second set of roots here in Washington, D.C.
“Sixty percent of the people that we present – primarily because it’s the nation’s capital – are either based here or come through here,” said Chautauqua Institution President Michael Hill.
Chautauqua’s D.C. office, located at 1602 L St. NW, is the first real expansion for the Institution, Hill said. Crews spent much of the summer season redesigning the office, which officially opened in September.
Right now, it’s mainly a base of operations so visitors won’t find a lot of programming here like one would find at the sprawling 750-acre campus in Chautauqua, N.Y. Instead, the events will be held just blocks away from Chautauqua’s second headquarters; and those events will be hosted by the groups that Chautauqua usually welcomes rather than the other way around.
“We partner with so many people here in terms of our speakers,” said Bishop Gene Robinson, the Institution’s vice president of religion. “(From) National Geographic, (to) The Newseum, The Holocaust Museum, The Smithsonian.”
For Hill, the office is a symbol of the Institution’s new approach to make the most of the New York campus during the nine months programming isn’t currently offered. By adding the D.C. location, he and his team are hoping to raise enough money for campus upgrades, off-season programming, and a new year-round Interfaith Center, which Robinson will lead.
“My goal is that when you say ‘interfaith,’ you think of Chautauqua,” Robinson said.
Of the roughly 100,000 visitors to the Chautauqua campus each summer, the Washington, D.C. market is the fourth-largest the Institution serves, Robinson said. So adding a D.C. office will help them become what they consider a world-player.
The expansion helps to not only serve Chautauqua’s summer residents who are based in Washington, but also to meet the nation’s top leaders right where they are and recruit them back to Western New York.
“I still believe that the nine-week season that we do will always be the purest manifestation of what we do,” Hill said. “But I think that Chautauqua has an opportunity to do much more in the world. I think the world is calling us to do it.”