February 2023: President’s Message

from Laurie Schechter, 65th President of The Ebell

February 8, 2023

Happy New Year dear Ebell Friends! It’s hard to believe that the first half of our 2022-2023 Fiscal Year is over and that COVID is fading into our distant past. It finally feels like we are getting back to a normal, pre-COVID routine and a calendar of on-campus meeting and activities. Fingers crossed!

As of January 31, given the drop in new COVID cases, we have updated our COVID protocols. Although masking is still recommended, it is no longer required, and we have also suspended proof-of vaccination checks for guests.

On Tuesday January 24, 2023, we held our Semi-Annual Business meeting at which board members summarized their activities during the past six months. Below are a few highlights as well as a taste of what’s to come.

During the first half of the year, we offered over 20 programs to our members and the public. 65% were held in the evening or on a weekend and 43% were free or pay-what-you-can. We recognize that our members’ schedules, needs and budgets differ, and we are trying to offer varied times, topics and price points. This month, continuing an Ebell tradition that dates to 2011, we celebrate Black History Month with a series of events that kicks off with our Mardi Gras-themed Confab followed by two compelling speaker programs, an AALAO opera recital and Foodie Friday Field Trip to Harold and Belle’s famous Creole restaurant. A special thanks to Co-Chairs Madelyn Murray and Wendy Gladney for their vision and leadership in creating this series. We continue to collaborate with members and partners who generously help underwrite more and diverse programs that are free, low cost and less risk. Among some of the Ebell Programs that members are helping to underwrite are: The Zen of Schizophrenia, February 6 (Patricia Lombard); and Celebrating Raven Wilkinson, March 6 (Robyn Gardenhire). Adam Schiff will be returning to The Ebell on April 29 for the 30th congressional district student art exhibit which is open to the public and championed by new member Anne Pfeiffer.

Have you ever thought that The Ebell might be the best kept secret in LA? You’re not alone. Vanessa Flores, our PR consultant, has been helping us raise Ebell awareness through more aggressive PR and strategic marketing communications. The Ebell this year has already been featured in over 10 local publications including the Los Angeles Times, Broadway World, DiscoverLA, The Larchmont Buzz, and The Larchmont Chronicle. You may have noticed that we have also been making small and continuous changes to our website to better reflect our mission and improve the user experience. We have added a Press page; our Ebell Calendar is now easily accessible on the top navigation page; and we are improving the committees and volunteer page. Hopefully, we have made joining, donating and making reservations easier. This is just the beginning. More updates for design, content and accessibility are still to come. While you can get a lot of information on our website, we have also initiated an Ebell Weekly News For Members email that is distributed every Wednesday and links to the committee and volunteers’ page. Our public Coming Up at the Ebell calendar of events listing goes out to both members and the community every Monday. Our E-Magazine is now published and emailed every other month with a focus on member news and more general-interest stories. You can also access the E-Magazine on our website. If you are not getting these emails, do let us know.

The good news is that rental income continues to be strong, allowing us to keep the doors open and the lights on. Corporate events and wedding bookings are 20% above where they were in 2018-2019, the last year before the Pandemic. Theatre Business is also picking up. The Grammy’s hosted their Liftetime Achievement Awards in The Wilshire Ebell Theatre. And see if you can spot The Ebell in these recent films: The Fabelmans, Babylon and Oppenheimer (set to release July of this year). We are so fortunate to have this steady stream of income, but it is insufficient to cover the programs we want to offer or address the major capital needs facing us over the next 10-20 years. More on that at another time. A huge thanks to those of you who have already contributed to our Annual Ebell Stewardship Campaign. Our Wilshire Ebell Theatre restoration project is well underway.

Since June, we have welcomed to the Ebell 109 new members, bringing total membership to 513. Research suggests that staying social is good for one’s mental health, especially as we age. A 2020 study from the United Kingdom found that volunteering even increased participants’ happiness! So, what are you waiting for? Connect with your “Cup” or “Saucer;” come to our programs; join our committees. Or just drop into our recently re-opened member Ebell Community/Work Space (3rd-floor Sun Room) for coffee, conversation or, heaven forbid, a little bit of work!

Happy Galentine’s Day and lots of LOVE always,