Lyric Hall Parties With A Purpose

Markeshia Ricks PhotoFriends of Lyric Hall lifted their bid paddles and their forks to raise some cash for the restored century-old former Vaudeville theater.

More than 150 people packed the hall for a benefit Thursday night that included a silent auction, live auction, food and music.

The Westville cultural gathering place fell behind on property taxes. Owner John Cavaliere is restructuring the hall’s business model from a limited liability corporation to a nonprofit. (Read more about that here.)

When supporters heard that Lyric Hall might face foreclosure, they organized the benefit to raise money and to raise spirits on behalf of the cultural touchstone and the boost that it provides to civic life in Westville.

In addition to buying tickets and thousands of dollars in art, friends like French trained Chef Arlene Ghent prepared a fragrant Spanish paella that was such a hit that many people openly admitted to having seconds and thirds.

Ghent said she and Cavaliere have been friends for more than 25 years. She also told the crowd that if anyone hires her to cook for them in the next couple of weeks for any event, she would donate 20 percent of her profit to Lyric Hall.

Organizers said that Cavaliere had hoped to raise about $8,000, and early totals suggest that the event raised that amount and a bit more. Cavaliere said that he was touched by the outpouring of support. “I love what I do and I want to continue to do it,” he said. “This support helps me do that.”

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posted by: Adelaide on May 22, 2015  6:17pm

Lyric Hall is incredibly lucky!Seems like just yesterday they were getting bailed out from leaving stuff in a flooding basement. Good thing they are in wealthy Westville! Meanwhile, in the Hill New Haven alders are fighting over a school!!

posted by: Truth Avenger on May 22, 2015  8:38pm

Adelaide- Lyric Hall has not built its community goodwill on “luck.” Rather, it has earned a place in the hearts of the community through the sweat, blood, sacrifice and skill of its steward, John Cavaliere. For the few periods of assistance the community has rendered, it has received a priceless gem of a gathering place that has no equal. It is not only the gateway to the Westville Village corridor, it is a place that embodies the spirit of the community, offering cultural and creative events that are seared into the hearts of those who have had the good sense to attend events there.

I would agree that Westville is wealthy, but not because of its economic demographic. It is the cohesiveness of a real community that makes Westville wealthy. It is people like John Cavaliere who continue to weather the natural storms and “acts of God,” the forces of runaway taxation, the slings and arrows of the judgmental, but who keep to their vision with perseverance and sense of mission.

That the good people of Westville have all this, is not something that should be a tool of envy, divisiveness or even comparison of one community against another.  It should, however, serve as a template of what is possible in every community if the critics channel their energies beyond talk to actual works for the common good.

It is not the economically wealthy that have lifted Lyric Hall above the proverbial tide waters, but the dedicated individuals who all contribute, each in their own small way, realizing that we are all in this together. Westville citizens are, in fact, creating their own luck even as the critics continue to gnash their critical teeth .

posted by: ADAK on May 23, 2015  6:27am

To take a cheap shot at a tiny theater that hopes to bring together the neighborhood as a place of goodwill and cultural gathering is only fit for internet trolls.

If you’d like to hassle something, go after many of the large corporations and shotty apartment complexes downtown. To spew negative remarks at a local business owner who wishes to raise $8,000 to continue on sounds petty. I’m pretty sure it costs a lot more than that to run the school you’re referring to.

I’m happy to hear news of Lyric Hall continuing on. Westville may be rich, but the village center needs places like this theater to keep people coming to it. To help keep other businesses profitable too.

posted by: citoyen on May 23, 2015  12:06pm

Truth Avenger has just written one of the best comments I’ve ever read in the Independent.  Perfectly expressed.

posted by: Mister Jones on May 26, 2015  12:52pm

Lyric Hall has become a real community center, and a non-profit makes much more sense as a business model. I always wondered how he could stay afloat—there’s no way the bookings paid the rent, and it seems that the restoration business could not subsidize theater space. That’s no surprise.

Wealthy Westville? Maybe relative to other neighborhoods, but what I see is a grassroots effort by working people to help one of their own.