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WNED Buffalo/Toronto's Co-Production of Chautauqua: An American Narrative Premieres on Monday, January 31

PBS will present the broadcast premiere of “Chautauqua: An American Narrative”on Monday, January 31 at 10 p.m.  Narrated by “The West Wing”actress Stockard Channing, the film was co-produced by WNED Buffalo/Toronto and Driftwood Productions, Inc.

The documentary portrays the Chautauqua Institution as a unique summer destination, where the arts and lifelong learning thrive.  It traces the Institution’s history and impact, and captures its contemporary essence and energy.

Little-known today, the Chautauqua Institution was founded 135 years ago in rural southwestern New York as a place of learning, renewal and inspiration.  In the 19th century, it began as a place of productive leisure and educational opportunity for Sunday school teachers.  Today, it remains a dynamic retreat where music, theater, visual arts, philosophy, current events and religion synergize and flourish.

Viewers will learn what attracts visitors to Chautauqua through the perspectives of a NASA engineer, a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, renowned authors, scholars and performers.  They will experience the spirited atmosphere and eclectic activity of the Institution, as artists hone their craft, 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, diverse architecture. Segments cover Chautauqua’s rich arts scene, lectures-in-progress and multigenerational 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.

Producer/director/writer John Grant has produced several other WNED productions for PBS, including “The Marines”, “Niagara Falls” and “Window to the Sea”.  “This unique program offers a glimpse of a multifaceted, significant place that is often difficult to describe with words alone,” says Grant. “The film also continues WNED’s important tradition of showcasing the cultural and historical treasures of Western New York to a national PBS audience.” Grant and David C. Rotterman, WNED’s vice president for television production, served as executive producers.

The program was produced with support from The John R. Oishei Foundation, Erie Insurance Group, Erick and Marianne Laine and the CUTCO Foundation, The Chautauqua County Legislature, the Department of Planning and Economic Development and Gary and Willow Brost.  Additional funding was provided by Barbara and Peter Georgescu and the Hyde Family Charitable Fund.

For more information, visit the website for the program here.

Watch the full episode. See more Chautauqua - An American Narrative.




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