The Scottsdale Cultural Council is a private business that receives over $4 million in taxpayer subsidies every year to “manage” city-owned facilities that they occupy rent-free, and for which they charge–and keep–substantial admission fees.
CEO Bill Banchs, quoted below in an article that appeared in the Scottsdale Republic this morning, is paid a quarter of a million dollars per year. He was hired by then-board chair Linda Milhaven, now a member of the Scottsdale City Council.
The finances of the Cultural Council have long been a joke among insiders and others who’ve tried unsuccessfully to get a look at their books. I wonder how much of the ‘fundraising’ touted by Banchs and board of trustees member Olson is actually in-kind contributions rather than cash?
Scottsdale Cultural Council logs big jump in fundraising
By Sonja Haller, The Republic | azcentral.com
The Scottsdale Cultural Council expects to end this fiscal year with more than $2 million in fundraising, surpassing $1.4 million last year.
“I certainly will say with reasonable confidence that this was truly the first year of growth since the recession began,” said Cultural Council President Bill Banchs, adding that this year was “very difficult, with a lot of conflict.”
The fundraising increase is 42 percent over last year.
The organization’s annual report with audited numbers is expected by November, but Banchs said he hopes it will show that every dollar the city contributed equaled $3 in programming. Last year, the figure in the annual report was $2.32 in programs delivered for every dollar.
The city annually contributes about $4million to the Cultural Council to stage programming with Scottsdale Public Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
The boost in contributed revenue is attributed to this year’s 54 new corporate sponsors. The “uncommon trend” in the art world of gaining new corporate sponsors brought in $1 million, compared to last year’s $500,000, said Ken Olson, Cultural Council trustee member.
Earlier this year, the fundraising projection was set at $1.75 million below the budgeted $1.97 million, after some board of trustee members questioned whether the goal for corporate sponsorship was reasonable.
Banchs said it’s the quality of the programming that has led to surpassing the budgeted projections.
The latest figures from the end of May show the non-profit Cultural Council netting $525,881 compared to last year’s deficit of $119,455.
Ticket sales as of mid-June brought in $2.4 million over last year’s $1.8 million. The average ticket price was raised to an average of $47 over last year’s $43.