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Letter: Chautauqua deserves better from its leaders

Chautauqua deserves better from its leaders

When a community replaces buildings of historic significance with replicas, it creates something very much like an amusement park but without the fun. Chautauqua deserves much better.

Old theaters, ballparks and warehouses are being restored all the time. And most are doing very well because people value and seek authenticity, they visit them. Imagine if every building on the Chautauqua grounds was replaced with a facsimile, which is what the institution intends for the Amp. Suddenly, the quality of the summer program and performers wouldn’t matter, because fewer people would be there. And soon after that, goodbye, Chautauqua.

A restored or new Amphitheater of visual interest designed by an architect worthy of its significance – unlike the one hired by the board – would far better represent our community and everything we stand for. Great architecture makes places more desirable and is a catalyst for developing additional nearby attractions. Instead, what the leaders and donors are doing is ruining Chautauqua by tearing down its most historic and distinctive building.

It’s for this reason that Chautauquans should advocate for open governance and support open-minded people willing to listen to the community and to make the right decisions before selecting a new president and future trustees. They can demonstrate they’ve learned a valuable lesson from the Amp process when they vote today for a new trustee. Otherwise, the demolition of the historic Amphitheater and the construction of a $41.5 million fake Amp will be just the start. I’ll say it again: Chautauqua deserves better.

Brian J. Berg

Chautauqua and Chicago

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