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Monday, January 31 at 10 p.m. Chautauqua: An American Narrative

(Rochester, NY) Chautauqua: An American Narrative, premiering Monday, January 31 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT 21.1/cable 1011 and 11), traces the Chautauqua Institution’s history and impact and captures its contemporary essence and energy.

Little-known today, the Chautauqua Institution was founded 135 years ago in a remote corner of Western New York as a place of learning, renewal, and inspiration. It has always been – and continues to be – unique. In the 19th century, it began as a place of productive leisure and educational opportunity for Sunday school teachers. In the 21st century, it remains a dynamic retreat, where the arts, philosophy, current events, and religion synergize and thrive.

Viewers will learn what makes Chautauqua one of the most distinctive summer destinations in America from a NASA engineer, a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, renowned authors, scholars, and performers. They will experience the spirited atmosphere and eclectic activity here, as artists hone their crafts, nationally recognized lecturers speak their minds, and thousands come to engage in learning and self-improvement.

“Human beings are not wired to be passive and inert, but we are designed to be active and engaged,” says best-selling business author and guest lecturer Daniel Pink. “This is an audience here at Chautauqua that’s extraordinarily engaged.”

The cinematography captures Chautauqua's idyllic lakeside village setting and elaborate Victorian architecture. Segments cover Chautauqua’s rich arts scene, lectures-in-progress, and multi-generational visitors. The film also addresses some of the Institution’s modern-day challenges: adapting to technology; reaching diverse audiences; and balancing tradition with future-oriented goals.

Throughout the film, America’s “democracy in action” emerges as a dominant theme. Chautauqua’s visitors have always been exposed to original ideas and myriad viewpoints through open discussion and face-to-face learning experiences. Today, this vital “education of the electorate” continues.

Credit: Courtesy of Eileen Elibol/WNED ©2009

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WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.