The announcement Monday that the Lyric Performing Arts Company has met the challenge grant of the Hoblitzelle Foundation is positive news on several fronts. First, the $50,000 and its locally raised match will help fund the ongoing renovations needed to open the historic downtown theater. Gaining the support needed to secure the foundation’s grant also is an indication of the support Brownwood area residents continue to provide the arts in this community.

Of course, while the restoration of the theater continues, the Lyric is not sitting on its hands. The facility has been used for a number of public events as work continues, and its usefulness to the community will soar when the project is complete. But the real reason behind the endeavor — the performing arts — remains at the top of the agenda. Using the stage at the Howard Payne University Theatre as its platform, the Lyric continues to produce shows for the community, including the popular children’s series, during the summer.

The building occupied by the Lyric was built in 1914 and was served as a theater — one of many — in downtown Brownwood for several generations. But even many longtime residents can remember the structure being used only as a retail store. But the efforts of a dedicated board, the support of the appreciative community and funding from foundations and industry will restore the Lyric to a place where residents and gather and be entertained. The Lyric’s board president expressed his appreciation specifically to Kohler Co., an unnamed local foundation and the Brownwood Independent School District when announcing that the Hoblitzelle Foundation challenge had been met. The school system allowed the Lyric and Howard Payne to remove seating, lighting, curtains and other items it would not need in its own fine arts improvement project.

The Raise the Curtain Capital Campaign continues for the Lyric, because more work is yet to be done. But reaching this milestone is significant for the board, and for the community. With continuing support, the show will go on.

Brownwood Bulletin