Arizona Commission on the Arts, which secured the state’s largest allocation of arts funding this past summer, dismisses executive director Anne L’Ecuyer less than a year into her term.
PHOENIX—Last week, the Arizona Commission on the Arts governing board voted to immediately terminate executive director Anne L’Ecuyer. It’s a controversial move, given that L’Ecuyer, who helmed the state’s best-known arts organization for only about nine months, questions the cause and method of her dismissal.
The agency, as shown in October 26, 2022 public meeting minutes, referenced “complaints made against Anne L’Ecuyer by various constituents and personal observations of patterns of behavior that have alienated certain parties.” L’Ecuyer, a former Washington D.C. and Maryland-area arts administrator, policy strategist, and educator became ACA executive director in February 2022.
“A really false narrative about my leadership has been adopted by commissioners as if it was fact,” L’Ecuyer tells Southwest Contemporary by phone. She alleges that board members read emails into the public record during last week’s meeting without providing attribution. “That’s the very definition of hearsay,” she says.
Southwest Contemporary requested details about L’Ecuyer’s termination from the ACA board, whose members are appointed by the governor. The agency responded by email, stating that “as an agency of the State of Arizona, it is our policy to offer no comment on personnel matters.”
L’Ecuyer’s dismissal comes during a critical part of the agency’s grant cycle, when various applications are submitted and reviewed, and applicants for some awards await notifications or funding allocations.
It’s unclear at this point what impact the employment shakeup may have on agency operations and services. “I don’t see any way that the grant process won’t be delayed,” says L’Ecuyer.
A panel review meeting for youth engagement grants scheduled for October 31 was shelved. A reason for the postponement was not provided on the agency’s website.
As of the close of business Tuesday, November 1, the board had not posted a job description for the vacant position on the ACA website or indicated whether an interim executive director has been or will be appointed.
During L’Ecuyer’s brief tenure, the Arizona legislature approved $5 million in funding for Arizona Commission on the Arts as part of the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget. As previously reported by Southwest Contemporary, the financial windfall is Arizona’s largest single-year allocation for the arts to date.
Despite her termination, L’Ecuyer says she plans to stay engaged with the arts community. “I will continue to use my voice to put forth what matters,” she says.
Arizona Commission on the Arts, a state agency since 1967, is one of more than fifty affiliates of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The commission provides programs that increase access to the arts and awards grants that support artists and arts organizations throughout the state. Cultural entities funded in part through ACA grants include Black Theatre Troupe, Phoenix Art Museum, Teatro Bravo, and Tucson Museum of Art.