- Amid the sun, amid the fun and amid the endless parties, there was some very serious conversations going on this July in the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall
. The inaugural session of the Hamptons Institute is complete and it left an indelible footprint that will hopefully remain for many seasons to come.
In collaboration with the highly respected Roosevelt Institute, Guild Hall undertook the lofty goal of creating an intellectually literate weekend symposium that addressed the critical financial and cultural issues facing the nation at a most pivotal and challenging time in its history.
Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Andrew Rich and Guild Hall Board of Trustees Chairman Mickey Straus welcomed attendees to the opening session of the Hamptons Institute.
What in most summer resort communities would have been considered a fool's errand not only succeeded, it exceeded expectations. Then again, this is the Hamptons and, after all, this is Guild Hall.
Of the various issues addressed and deftly dissected at the weekend symposium none was more critical than the Friday, July 16 opening session whose topic was "Restoring the Integrity of the U.S. Financial Markets." Very well moderated by New York Times
business columnist Joe Nocerca
, the panel included University of Maryland Law Professor Michael Greenberger
, Harvard University Law Professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren
and none other than hedge fund pioneer, global financier, philanthropist and social and political activist George Soros
, whose advice and counsel has been sought by world leaders for decades.
Essentially a full house at 3 p.m. on a sunny start to weekend eight of our coveted 15 weekend summer season, Hamptonians should be commended for passing on solar illumination for intellectual illumination in support of Guild Hall's heroic effort to create a forum for cogent and challenging conversation.
Hedge fund pioneer, global financier and philanthropist George Soros chatting with attendees at the garden reception following the opening session of the Hamptons Institute.
Cogent indeed, as the panelists discussed almost every aspect that led to the failure and now potential recovery of both the American and International financial markets from the lack of regulatory controls to new consumer protection initiatives to government driven stimulus programs to a debate regarding the basic notion of greed as a factor in the worldwide financial collapse.
Almost 90 minutes of lively and informative conversation by moderator Norerca and his panelists was followed by about 20 minutes of intelligent and articulate audience Q&A. At the session's end, literally dozens of attendees rushed the stage with personal questions and salutations for the participants. Eventually everyone worked their way from the theater to Guild Hall's garden for a reception where the stimulating conversation continued.
This was just the start to a weekend of engaging sessions that would include Roosevelt Institute panel discussions "Building the Infrastructure for a New Economy;" "Investing in Arts and Culture" and "The Future of the News Media" that included panelists and moderators Ron Auletta
, Lisa Dennison
, Eric Fishel
, Professor Margo Lion
, Dr. Robert Johnson
, Van Jones
, Professor Jeff Madrick
, Craig Newmark
, Bernard Schwartz
, Damian Woetzel
, Jeff Zucker
and Mort Zuckerman
The post session reception in the garden of Guild Hall.
Those sessions were followed by Guild Hall lectures "Mercedes Matter in the 1930s and 1940s" with Joan Marter, Ph.D.
and, in collaboration with the Pollock-Krasner House
& Study Center, "Art in the Good Ol' Summertime from Winslow Homer
to Guild Hall" with Professor Karal Ann Marling
The sessions were punctuated with coffee breaks, lunch breaks and a special VIP dinner and luncheon for panelists and Hamptons Institute Fellows and Sponsor level ticket holders hosted in their homes by Leila
and Mickey Straus
and Jeff Tarr
Art and culture has permeated the Hampton summers since the turn of the 19th century. This season, not to say that politics and economics have not been part of the social banter since the days when the first beam rose at the Maidstone
Club, a thought provoking and intellectually stimulating political/societal symposium perhaps equaled the importance of a toney art opening, a star featured play or movie premiere, or a celebrity driven charity gala.
If this maiden voyage of the Hamptons Institute returns and endures it will not only be a testament to the innovative creativity of Guild Hall, it will be a testament to the intellectual integrity of this paradise we call the Hamptons.
For more information go to www.guildhall.org
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com