Dr. Bill Banchs doesn’t plan to be a CEO who spends much time behind a desk.
The Florida arts executive, who will become the Scottsdale Cultural Council’s new president and CEO in January, said from his Miami office Thursday he wants to be a visible part of the Scotts-dale arts community he will be charged with promoting.
“I love making the arts happen. I plan to be a very public citizen,” said Banchs, 59, on the new role he formally accepted on Wednesday.
Banchs’ arrival comes at a time when the Cultural Council is awaiting a new contract with Scottsdale.
Linda Milhaven, chairman of the council’s Board of Trustees, said Banchs — selected through a nationwide search — was chosen for his proven track record of fundraising and developing organizations.
“He will bring a strong external focus to the organization, helping us look at possibilities for the future of the arts in Scottsdale while providing important support to each operation’s division directors,” said Milhaven.
The Scottsdale Cultural Council is a private nonprofit organization that contracts with the city to administer certain arts and cultural projects and manage the city-owned Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Public Art program.
The organization has been headed by interim CEO Shelley Cohn since former CEO Frank Jacobson retired last summer. Cohn will remain in her current position during the transition.
Cohn said Wednesday’s hiring decision was not made in a open public meeting because personnel matters — or other issues of a competitive nature that could affect the organization’s ability to do business — are discussed in private. The council won a Maricopa County Superior Court decision Jan. 4 that found that as a private entity, it does not have to follow open-meeting laws despite its receiving city funds.
Banchs has an extensive history in the arts. He earned his master’s and doctorate in music composition and theory at Harvard University. He founded the Miami School of Musical Arts in 1981, serving as its director for nearly a decade.
For the past 16 years, Banchs has served as president of the Miami-based National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, a national nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the arts to youth through career development and education.
During his tenure with that foundation, Banchs helped double its operating budget to $5 million and increased endowments from $1.7 million to $15 million, according to a Cultural Council statement released Wednesday.
Banchs said the chance to return to promoting the arts on a community level was too intriguing to resist.
“I see Scottsdale as an ideal setting. Scottsdale takes great pride in what it offers its visitors and citizens,” he said. “We will be looking at all the options to study the most viable and impactful direction to take the arts. I’m looking forward to being a part of developing that strategy.”