Chautauqua Wins National “Best Small Town Cultural Scene”Chautauqua, N.Y. (July 10, 2020) — Voters in the latest USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice contest have spoken: Chautauqua, New York, boasts America’s “Best Small Town Cultural Scene.” The announcement was made at at 12 p.m. EDT today.

“It’s a tremendous honor for Chautauqua to win this national contest, especially among such an amazing array of fellow nominees. We’re so grateful to all of our dedicated community members here in Chautauqua County and all over the country for helping in this effort,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. “We’re immensely proud of the cultural scene we provide at Chautauqua Institution: We explore the best in human values and uplift art and voices that our world needs to see and hear. This is further affirmation that the work we do matters.”
Town of Chautauqua Supervisor Don Emhardt agrees. “This recognition is extra special because it suggests Chautauqua is not only a great place to visit, but it’s also a wonderful place to live year-round,” Emhardt said.

Nominated among American small-town gems such as Taos, New Mexico, and Saratoga Springs, New York, Chautauqua never relinquished the No. 1 spot in the “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” contest while standings were visible, until about a week before the end of the voting period. As Institution staff simultaneously prepared to launch a collection of five completely new online properties in lieu of an in-person season in 2020, several Chautauqua County partners stepped forward to help lead a get-out-the-vote campaign.

“This truly was a county-wide effort. Not only do we have friends and neighbors who care about Chautauqua and its mission, but they come willing to share their incredible skills and experience. Before we even had to ask, representatives of the National Comedy Center, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce had banded together to offer guidance and resources,” said Emily Morris, the Institution’s vice president of marketing and communications and chief brand officer. “We share this honor with all our Chautauqua County neighbors, and hope this distinction combined with other recent regional recognitions solidify Chautauqua County’s credentials as a national tourism and residential destination.”

Chautauqua’s win is the third national distinction a Chautauqua County entity has scored within the past eight months. In December 2019, the village of Fredonia was chosen as the featured town of Season 5 of Hulu’s “Small Business Revolution” series. The National Comedy Center was named “Best New Museum” in a USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice contest in February.

Nominees for “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” were chosen by a panel of relevant experts which include a combination of editors from USA TODAY; editors from; relevant expert contributors; and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties. “Chautauqua is a double threat – stunning scenery and a thriving cultural scene, thanks in large part to the celebrated Chautauqua Institution, a summer center for the arts, spiritual growth and recreation,” according to the experts. “The institution hosts more than 2,000 events during its annual summer season, including concerts, lectures and educational demos.” The public was invited to vote daily from June 1 to June 29 for one of 20 nominees. USA Today’s provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

Chautauqua previously was named by Smithsonian magazine named as the No. 1 “Best Small Town to Visit in 2014” in the cover story of its April 2014 issue, which preceded a lengthy feature later that summer on the front page of The New York Times’ Travel section. In January 2011, the hourlong documentary “Chautauqua: An American Narrative” premiered on national PBS stations, and in 2014, WQED-TV, the Pittsburgh PBS member station WQED premiered “Chautauqua: Charting a Life in the Arts,” an hourlong documentary following four students of the Institution’s Schools of Performing and Visual Arts.



Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.




Megan L. Arnone

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

PO Box 1441

Chautauqua, NY 14722

716-357-ILNY (4569)

C: 716-487-6393