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Friday, March 12, 2021

Chautauqua Institution 2021:
President Michael E. Hill talks about program limitations, and
NYS attendance rules, restrictions

In a valiant effort to head off a multitude of emails and phone calls, the President of the Chautauqua Institution has written a letter to all Chautauquans and the general public about the current status of its programming for the 2021 season. Also addressed was the attendance standards as they apply to the New York State Coronavirus regulations. 

Although these regulations may be changing right up to the beginning of their season and quite possibly within the time frame of the season, Mr. Hill addresses it from the perspective of the current standing regulations. If current inoculations continue according to plan and if the public continues to cooperate, particularly with respect to the wearing of masks, visitors to both Chautauqua and Silver Lake might be surprised by the lifting of some, if not all, of the coronavirus rules.

For your convenience, the entire Chautauqua letter is available for reading in the section which follows the "read more" link below and to the left:

2021 Season Update From President Michael E. Hill
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Chautauqua Institution :: 2021 Season Update
Dear Chautauquans,

The message we posted yesterday regarding the 2021 Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra season has sparked great enthusiasm for the forthcoming summer as well as a desire to know more. We join our entire community of communities in feeling increasingly hopeful about our prospects for a wonderful summer at Chautauqua.

I write today to provide a more comprehensive update on the state of planning in view of continuing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to give you a sense of our thinking at this time: What we know; what we do not know; and when we expect to know more. 

Please know that in all cases, we are attempting to offer an experience that comes as close as possible to normal times. Where we are not able to achieve that goal, it will be because state or local restrictions remain in place or because, by the time state and local restrictions are lifted, we will have lost the lead time necessary to book speakers, preachers and performers, hire staff and prepare facilities, or otherwise plan all the programs we wish to offer. 

We do not yet have specific state or local guidance as to what will be required this summer. The landscape is changing quickly, and re-opening guidance right now is focused on the weeks ahead, not on the months ahead. We continue to be in regular contact with officials at all levels of government. Based on current trends, this is what we expect will be the impact of COVID-19 on your 2021 Summer Assembly experience at Chautauqua:
  • We will continue to keep patron, staff, and community safety as our top priority.
  • We are continuing to plan for worship, lecture and performing arts programming in the Chautauqua Amphitheater, and theater, opera and voice programs at a new and temporary Performance Pavilion on Pratt Avenue. 
    • Additional programs for smaller audiences will be presented in the Hall of Philosophy and Smith Wilkes Hall.
    • Outdoor movies will be offered when possible in various locations on the grounds. Chautauqua Cinema will offer movies at its Higgins Hall location as regulations and feasibility permit.
    • All programs will be offered in accordance with COVID-19 regulations, which may cause some modifications to some types of presentations, particularly the performing arts, for the safety of all involved. For example, our performers will be more stationary and farther apart on our stages than we normally see.
    • We have confirmed and announced (or are preparing to announce) 52% of planned 10:30 a.m. lectures (Chautauqua Lecture Series); 20% of planned 1 p.m. lectures (Interfaith Lecture Series); and 70% of weekly pastors; and 55% of planned evening entertainment programs. This work continues. Bookmark this page for the complete list of programs confirmed and announced to date, including pre-season programs.
    • In-person programs will be simulcast on CHQ Assembly as much as possible, when permitted by speaker and artist contracts. A limited number of Summer Assembly events will be presented only on CHQ Assembly.
  • We will be required to adhere to strict crowd and queue control for all events in these venues and otherwise. This will mean procedures will be in place to get into and out of our events — which will represent a slightly different experience for our returning patrons. Similar procedures will be implemented across the country in response to regulations.
  • Patrons will be required to wear face masks in our venues or anywhere it is difficult to stay 6 feet away from those not in your household, except when seated at a dining venue. 
  • Vigilant hand washing and other personal hygiene practices will continue to be encouraged to prevent disease spread.
  • Food and beverage operations will be able to operate according to state guidelines, including requirements that one be seated to consume a beverage or eat. We will also present new foodservice offerings to enhance and augment existing venues (more to come on this later this spring). The Farmers Market and Bestor Fresh Market will continue to be offered as well.
  • Chautauqua Golf, Fitness, Tennis, Sports Club, and Sailing programs and operations will be open for business, with Golf opening as soon as weather permits this spring; Tennis starting operations in late May; and Sports Club and Turney Sailing Center opening with the start of the Summer Assembly in late June. Chautauqua Health & Fitness at Turner is operating now and will continue to do so. We will not operate the fitness location at Heinz Beach in 2021. 
  • Chautauqua Children’s Beach will be open during the Summer Assembly, lifeguard staffing permitting.
  • We will offer Youth and Family programs as announced in February.
  • We will offer a combination of face-to-face and online master and enrichment classes through Special Studies. These programs will be available for registration in mid-May.
  • New York state has removed the quarantine requirement for those coming from out of state, beginning April 1. This does not apply to international travelers currently. 
  • We know we will need to continue to be flexible and prepared to change as state regulations regarding COVID-19 safety and compliance change. 
What we do not yet know about the impact of COVID-19 on your 2021 Summer Assembly experience:
  • Our plan anticipates we will need to limit event attendance to 50% of venue capacity. State regulations as of this date (March 12, 2021) do not yet permit us to accommodate 50% of the capacity of the Amphitheater (or 2,200 guests in the venue). We are continuing to follow daily policy changes and announcements which are moving in the desired direction, that is, carefully becoming less restrictive. 
  • We do not yet know whether the state will require COVID-19 testing for people to enter event venues.
  • We do not yet know whether the state will require us to see proof of COVID-19 vaccination from adults for people to enter event venues.
When do we expect to know more?
  • We expect that state policy will continue to fluctuate over the next two months or more. We will wait until May 1 to decide whether regulations known or projected at that time call for us to significantly modify our program or operations plan for 2021.
  • We expect to make registration for youth programs (Children’s School; Group One; Club) available by the end of March.
  • By May 1, we expect to share more information about single ticket sales to Amphitheater popular entertainment and Performance Pavilion covered seating (lawn seating is included with all Traditional Gate Passes and Grounds Access Passes, subject to availability).
We thank you for your continued patience as we navigate increasingly hopeful, yet still uncertain waters. You have our promise that we will share any new information quickly as we keep our focus on creating a safe and wonderful 2021 Chautauqua experience. 

Please contact our information office via email at infooffice@chq.org with any specific questions you may have regarding your Chautauqua experience. We will do our best to provide a timely response.
All my best,

Michael E. Hill
For your information, here is a link to the current state guidelines for Phase Four Industries, which include Arts and Entertainment organizations.

For your information, here is a link to the current New York COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Please note this does not yet reflect the above-referenced April 1 lift on out-of-state quarantine regulations.

For your information, guidance on masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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