Cultural Council Fundraising

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 |

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.

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