Ticket Sales Soar With The Turkeys

Friday’s Scottsdale Republic included a headline shouting that ticket sales at the Scottsdale Cultural Council are ‘soaring.’

With a $4 million plus annual subsidy from the taxpayers of Scottsdale, plus free use of the taxpayer-owned facilities and keeping all the proceeds from ticket sales, this private business still loses money every year and continues to come back to the city begging for bailouts. A 20-year, no-bid contract apparently isn’t enough to stay competitive.

The only part of the organization that has ever really worked is the Public Art program, and the Cultural Council just pushed out the person who is responsible for making it work.

All this while mayor Jim Lane continues to lead the rah-rah squad on the city council singing their praises, with former Cultural Council board chair Linda Milhaven as his co-captain on the dais. Only one member of the city council who has ever called for any sort of accountability for this massive taxpayer subsidy, while business owners Dennis Robbins and incumbent candidate Suzanne Klapp have done nothing but join in the cheerleading.

The Republic says,

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is approaching its tickets sales goals, having reached 56 percent of its yearly goal six weeks into the season.

That’s considerably misleading given that any performing arts venue is going to sell most of its tickets at the beginning of the season…in fact, most would have sold a much higher percentage of goal by this time.

“We are really looking good this year in terms of ticket sales and attendance,” said Bill Banchs, president of the Scottsdale Cultural Council, which governs the performing arts center.

56 percent is only “good” in comparison to last year. Kind of like how your thumb actually feels pretty good after you stop smashing it with your hammer. Or how the Cultural Council may actually be a decent place to work after this widely-acknowledged idiot Banchs is finally gone…after years of protection from nursemaid Milhaven, who hired him and is too embarrassed by that monumentally stupid decision to “let him fail.”

The Republic goes on:

The organization is outpacing last year’s contributed revenue, or fundraising, by bringing in 19 new corporate partners with 10 existing partners increasing donations over last year. However, fundraising still is $374,808 short of the Cultural Council’s goal for the end of September.

It’s interesting to me how Banchs is always bragging about “new corporate partners” and how they’ve boosted fundraising. Yet, he never says anything about how many corporate partners who are sick of dealing with him have left.

And with all the new corporate partners and boosted giving from old ones, how did they fall a half-million (at least 25%) short last year, raise the goal to an even more unrealistic level this year, and they are already nearly $400,000 short so far? No sane person would run a bake sale with this kind of accounting.

I note in closing that the Cultural Council has greenlighted $2.5 million in public art expenditures, at least a third of which are going to go to “administrative expenses.” Just for clarification, Public Art is largely funded by earmarked funds from the city’s General Fund. “Administrative expenses” are a way for the Cultural Council to skim off some of those earmarked funds and divert them to make up for losses in other areas. And maybe fund a few parties at Bill Banchs’s house.

I’ll repeat something I’ve said often about this moron Banchs: He was hired primarily for his self-proclaimed fundraising ability. Yet,  he has never raised enough money through his own efforts to even pay his own $250,000 salary since he’s been in Scottsdale.

All other reasons aside, if this organization were run with any semblance of  business-like responsibility, Banchs would have been gone long ago. However, just like with the much-proclaimed “civil dialog” initiative, Jim Lane’s “businesslike approach” to city government doesn’t apply when we are talking about his campaign donors and friends from the Chamber of Commerce.

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1 Comment

  1. Someone sent me a comment in response to this article that reminded me of something (else) I’ve been meaning to get off my chest.

    Banchs, et. al., brag a lot about ticket revenue but there’s never any analysis of per-show net revenue, and there never seems to be any discussion of per-show goals.

    As I see it, the fundamental unit of accounting at the Cultural Council’s biggest “profit center” (which is to say it SHOULD be a profit center) is how much does each show net? If they don’t know that, how can they possibly know whether you should book that show again, or shows like it?

    Even if they have given up on the idea of every show making money in lieu of service to the community (a notion with which I strongly disagree), the should still do the tracking so they can know what kind of mix they need in order to achieve the overall financial goals of the organization.

    You’d think someone with a finance background (like Jim Lane, Linda Milhaven, Ron McCullagh, et. al.) would absolutely insist on it.

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