The economic downturn has battered every Westport budget, from households and merchants to government.
Non-profit organizations have been particularly hard hit. People and businesses have less money to donate to fundraisers. More groups compete for fewer dollars.
Yet the need for the services provided by those organizations grows daily.
For over a century, the Westport Woman’s Club has relied on the Yankee Doodle Fair to bring in oodles of cash. But the annual event — which ended its run on Sunday — is weather-dependent. And costs continue to rise, for everything from carneys to cops.
The club — which (very quietly) provides charitable, educational, cultural and public health services in Westport and neighboring towns — has explored additional fundraising ventures. They’ve looked at ideas that would generate substantial amounts, while at the same time broadening the Woman’s Club brand and appeal (aka both attracting younger members, and promoting the distinctive yet often-overlooked Imperial Avenue clubhouse as an event venue).
And yes, a venue that can be rented by other organizations.
The result: “Waiting in the Wings Cabaret.”
“Cabaret” is a series of shows where “emerging young New York talent” can perform. They get exposure and the chance to try out new acts. Westporters get entertained. The Woman’s Club gets a nice chunk of change.
The 1st pilot event — last February — sold out. The 2nd — “Midsummer Night’s Dreamin'” — is scheduled for this Saturday (June 25).
The actual “launch” will take place October 15. Other cabarets follow, in January, March and May.
Among the June performers: Sally Eidman. The Staples (and Northwestern) graduate was a finalist in the 2010 “Next Broadway Sensation” competition. She’ll be joined by actors, singers, musicians, comedians, improv artists — many with Broadway credentials. Staples, Bedford and Coleytown “rising stars” will perform too.
As the Woman’s Club cast about for an intriguing fundraiser, they reached out to another category of Westporters struggling to survive: restaurants. The club offered partnerships for the cabaret series.
Matsu Sushi will offer appetizers at the June performances. Also that Saturday, anyone showing a ticket before or after the show will receive a free appetizer at the restaurant.
And through July 6, Matsu Sushi is donating 5% of diners’ checks, when you present either a cabaret ticket or a certificate available on the Woman’s Club website.
The cabaret concept is a win-win-win-win: for the Westport Woman’s Club; the rising young stars; anyone looking for great entertainment at a low price, and everyone the Woman’s Club helps through the funds they raise.
(Tickets for this Saturday’s 5 and 8:30 p.m. performances are $25. For information, call 203-227-4240 or click here.)