Melding Recreation with Culture, Art and Religion


“Art seems to me to be above all a state of soul.”~ Marc Chagall 

Did you happen to see “Chautauque: An American Narrative” on PBS last night? I’ve been aware of this artist colony, located in Western New York, for quite sometime. However, the 60 minute documentary fulfilled my interest in wanting to know all kinds of things about this idyllic, lakeside town, their summer inhabitants and the programs offered by the Chautauque Institute that has existed since the late 1870’s. 

The Chautauque Institute has had it’s struggles over the years, but since the 1980’s a new vision for strengthening it’s programs in science, art, religion and politics has rejuvenated and elevated their institution to new levels. What began as a literary retreat back in 1878 now includes teaching programs, lecture series and live performances of theatre, opera, ballet. Studio experiences abound for painters, sculpture, fiber arts and even more. People come to immerse themselves in the intellectually and culturally stimulating programs for a week or two, or for an entire season. 

The institute’s popular morning lecture event attracts speakers such as Sandra Day O’Connor, David McCollough, Garrison Keiller and Daniel Pink. There are over 2,000 fulfilling programs in a 9 week period for those with a thirst for knowledge on the subjects of art, politics, spirituality and culture. 

Lake Chautauqua provides a setting for recreating in any way you please. Every summer, the town swells from a few hundred full-time residents to a population of 150,000 people. There are families, 5 generations deep, that return annually to enjoy the facilities and the recreation opportunities in this beautiful town and at this culturally-rich institute. For more information on the documentary film about this fulfilling summer hub of recreation, enrichment and intellectual stimulation, please visit


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6 thoughts on “Melding Recreation with Culture, Art and Religion

  1. Sue: I enjoyed your post on Chautauqua. I too saw the wonderful PBS feature about it and enjoyed seeing in detail this lovely “campus” of great ideas and innovation. Chautauqua Lectures and TED Talks lead me to create — a very robust site that links to more than 50 talks and lectures sites, many of which most people have never heard of. Thanks again for your Chautauqua comments and for helping to spread the word about such fine places! Jim Melfi,founder,

  2. Jim,
    Thank you for commenting on the blog. It is always nice to get feedback from readers. I found the information on interesting, and have posted your link on my personal Facebook page –
    Sue Batton Leonard.
    Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing!
    (I will also pass the word on to my son, who is a filmmaker, he will find it interesting also.

  3. Thank you for the kind comments and for notifying others of my site. As a side note, and in reference to your business work, I am still amazed at the number of people who don’t have a clue about on-demand-publishing. I use a company in Gainesville, Fl. It doesn’t matter if I want one book or eight dozen. They simply hit the print number (lazer printed) and out come my books with glossy full-color cover — $4.50 each. Whenever I tell prospective authors this, they usually think: My gosh, I’ve never heard of that technique! Thanks again Sue. Jim Melfi,

  4. Hi Jim,
    I have been doing alot of public speaking on this issue – educating people about how the publishing industry has changed and freelance professionals are available in very part of the publishing process. Between 2008-2009 the independent publishing industry has grown 181% (according to Bowker)so the word is beginning to get around and indie publishing now represents approx.50% of all publishing revenue (Bowker.) Thanks to print on demand and short run printing.

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