"The Mess on the Mall."

The more Neale Perl attempts to assure the arts community that things are under control at the Cultural Council --- the worse it gets, along with his ability to manage the obvious mayhem.
How bad is it? Several of those in the arts community have started referring to the Cultural Council, whose headquarters is on the Civic Center Mall, as the "Mess on the Mall."
Truer words were never spoken.
Cory Baker, the Director of the Center for the Performing Arts, was fired Wednesday.  The news release announcing Baker's sudden departure wasn't issued until Friday - and principals of the Cultural Council, including the Board of Trustees, didn't receive it until Friday evening.
The official announcement started by saying:  "Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Assistant Director Ally Haynes-Hamblen has been appointed interim director.  She begins her new responsibilities immediately, taking over from Director Cory Baker, who left the organization on June 3."
Baker hadn't just "left." She was given the heave-ho.
It was exactly this time last month that Perl was defending his plan for reorganizing the Cultural Council in the face of rumors that people's jobs were in jeopardy.  He told the New Times arts reporter: "We're not looking to eliminate any positions."
He didn't, however, say anything about eliminating any people.
According to Cultural Council staff members, the only thing lower than ticket sales at the Center for the Performing Arts, down about $500,000 for the year, is the organization's morale - which they say has returned to the low level of the Bill Banchs' era. 
Just as bad is the division that insiders say is plaguing the Board of Trustees.  There are apparently two camps on the esteemed advisory board: Those who support Perl, because they think the arts organization should be run like a business - and those who distrust Perl, because they feel the organization should be more focused on art than business.
Even some Perl backers are starting to doubt his management abilities after several months of frequent public relations faux pas. And the absolute worst thing that's beginning to emerge for the Cultural Council is that its support on the City Council is eroding.  If that erosion continues at its current rate, the organization runs the risk of putting its relationship with the city in peril.
Personalities and institutional dysfunction aside, some of the most influential members of the Scottsdale arts community have long wondered if the structure of the Cultural Council is the real culprit.  Few if any cities in the country have an umbrella organization such as the Cultural Council that's responsible for managing such a diverse array of art entities like the Center for the Performing Arts, Public Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Cultural Council has had a public-private partnership with the city for almost 30 years.  It started modestly with managing the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  Today, it has grown into a full-fledged arts bureaucracy.  Its identity is complicated, its image is confusing and its brand is baffling.
The Cultural Council has been operating on institutional inertia for years - perhaps it's time to hit the reset button on how the promotion of arts and culture in our community is managed.