Ella’s Loss Devastates Musicians

SPOKANE — Local musicians say it’s the place for live jazz music in Spokane.

But Tuesday night, Ella’s Supper Club at Center Stage is closed for business, and it won’t reopen unless the non-profit can raise thousands of dollars by this week.

Ella’s is located on West First Avenue in downtown Spokane, and its closure has the local music community devastated.

Ella’s financial director says it’s in trouble. By the end of August, it has to raise $125,000 to stay in business.

Danny McCollim has been a regular at Center Stage since it opened back in 2003. He routinely plays solos, and other times in a trio.

“You get to play with some of the best players in town. I get chocked up because this is kind of an emotional thing for us,” McCollim said.

It’s the intimate space, the lighting, the oriental carpets, and the audience’s appreciation of the music that brings McCollim and other musicians back.

“It’s a beautiful outlet,” McCollim said. “You’re not just wallpaper up here like in most of the other clubs. You actually come up here and it’s got a beautiful setting. They actually expect to hear jazz and they’re attentive.”

“It’s really great to have a place close by that they can come to even if they’re not jazz musicians,” musician Eugene Jablomsky said. “They know they can come here because it’s a listening kind of place.”

Live music graces the stage five nights a week, but now the non-profit behind it all is being forced to close its doors.

“I think we’ve really unfortunately hit the perfect storm,” Art Center Stage executive director Don Swanson said.

Ella’s blames a 50 percent decline in customers, a change in programming, and a slow spring turnout.

“Many of the arts organizations in Spokane count on between 30 and 40 percent of their annual budget to come from contributed income. In the last couple of years we’ve squeaked by on as little as  5 to 10 percent,” Swanson said.

Ella’s needs to come up with $40,000 by the end of this week, and $85,000 more by the end of the month to stay afloat and reopen.

That’s something many local musicians would like to see.

Ella’s says it will honor any catering and events scheduled through the month of August.