Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What is a Chautauqua? What an unusual name - where did the name came from?

What is a Chautauqua? A Chautauqua program brings history to life with a 
performance by a scholar posing as a historical figure or an expert speaker 
on an intriguing topic.  

Lively discussion follows each show, with the Chautauquan, still in character, 
taking questions from the audience.  The fun of the extended performance is
 the illusions that a famous historical character is "really" present.  The 
performer will then "breaks character" and the audience has a chance to ask
 personal questions of the scholar. 

The performer has thus accomplished her mission: to transport the audience 
with a "humanities time machine" to experience, explore and enjoy history. 

Originally, the idea of traveling humanities programs started in the late 1800's 
in the lakeside village of Chautauqua in upstate New York.

The village got its name, Chautauqua, from the Iroquois.  Supposedly it means "bag tied in the middle/two moccasins tied together".

More info on the original Chautauqua and historic photos at:
1950: Art Fest

Today, the Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center beside Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of over 100,000 attend scheduled public events. Over 8,000 students enroll annually in the Chautauqua Summer Schools which offer courses in art, music, dance, theater, writing skills and a wide variety of special interests. 
The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was successful and broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.
While founders Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent were Methodists, other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward, and today Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical in spirit and practice. Chautauqua's Department of Religion presents distinguished religious leaders of many faiths from this country and abroad, both as preachers and teachers.
MillerVincentThe Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) was started in 1878 to provide those who could not afford the time or money to attend college the opportunity of acquiring the skills and essential knowledge of a College education. The four-year, correspondence course was one of the first attempts at distance learning. Besides broadening access to education, the CLSC program was intended to show people how best to use their leisure time and avoid the growing availability of idle pastimes, such as drinking, gambling, dancing and theater-going, that posed a threat both to good morals and to good health.
With the success of the CLSC, many new Chautauquas were created, known as "Daughter Chautauquas," giving rise to what was called the "Chautauqua Movement." Some years later, the talent agencies that provided speakers and entertainers for these platforms, put together shows of their own, which traveled to small towns across the United States and Canada. These were known as the 'circuit chautauquas" or "tent chautauquas."
1930: FDR "I Hate War" speech

By 1880 the Chautauqua platform had established itself as a national forum for open discussion of public issues, international relations, literature and science. Approximately 100 lecturers appear at Chautauqua during a season.

1970: Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra 
Music became increasingly important at Chautauqua, especially after the turn of the century. A symphony orchestra season became part of the regular program in 1920. The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1929, now performs thrice weekly with leading soloists in the 4,000-seat Amphitheater, Chautauqua's program center. Popular entertainers perform other evenings. Chautauqua Dance also appears in the Amphitheater, sometimes with guest artists, while the Chautauqua Theater Company presents its season in Bratton Theater. The Chautauqua Opera Company, also founded in 1929, performs in English in Norton Hall.
Chautauqua plays a unique educational role today, offering studies on a vacation level, a more serious level and a professional level.
In addition, there are enhanced learning opportunities within Chautauqua's other programming.  Music, the arts, religion, recreation and the pursuit of knowledge are all available. Younger and older students often share learning experiences in an open, congenial atmosphere. Children and young people are also provided with their own special programs.

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