The leaders of Broward County government will review the growing scandal at the Young At Art (YAA) children’s museum in Davie. Over the last week, REDBROWARD exposed questionable videos involving YAA founder Mindy Shrago and topless women whacking Donald Trump pinatas and a risque “peep show” sponsored by the museum. Curated by Shrago’s son Zack Spechler, the peep show exhibit allowed children to view naked men and women involved in sex acts.
Yesterday, an email sent to YAA sponsors, officials and the media urged leaders to remove Shrago from her role as YAA executive director. The “Protect Young At Art” email was addressed to YAA Board Chairman David Di Pietro and other board members. “I would normally be inclined to pen this correspondence in my own name but after reading the recent article in Red Broward about how those who oppose you and Ms. Shrago’s husband, Mr. Spechler, for the protection of my family I will remain anonymous,” the email began. The author applauded Shrago’s original vision which started at a Plantation shopping center. “Unfortunately, while Ms. Shrago was a visionary in creating Young at Art, life cannot be all play. The time comes for one to mature and pay his or her debts. I have been following the saga of Young at Art since Ms. Wallman of the Sun- Sentinel broke the story a few years ago. I became keenly aware of the claims of Young at Art, specifically its claim of a need for restructuring of its debt payments because its potential donors were not inclined to donate to the government. In contrast, I find it notable that while there are concerns of donors not wanting to give to the government, the admission price is $14 for parents and children ($12 for County Residents). At that price it seems that Young at Art has prioritized its donors over the lower income families/taxpayers of Broward County who want to see the museum.”
“Outraged” by the videos, the author identifies one of the topless women in the Donald Trump videos. “I thought the topless woman looked familiar and I realized it was Ali Shrago-Spechler, daughter of Executive Director Mindy Shrago. I further learned that Ms. Shrago-Spechler has a permanent installation/exhibit at Young at Art. I also did a google search of Ali Shrago-Spechler , and discovered her odd, topless political videos on YouTube and her blog where there is a painting…of Ms.Shrago naked across the lap of her father, Jay Spechler.”
The email ends with a call for Di Pietro to remove Shrago. “If you and your Board are not puppets and are truly acting in the best interests of the Museum, then it is time for you and your board to ask for the resignation of Mindy Shrago. If you will not do it, I would hope that the County Commission would request this as a requirement of any loan modification. Ms. Shrago should be thanked for her vision in creating Young at Art but it is clear that she is ill-equipped to run a museum in a fiscally responsible manner free of nepotism and without the possibility of exposing children to amoral behavior.”
When contacted by REDBROWARD, Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler said she plans on reviewing the YAA videos and the call for Shrago’s resignation with County Administrator Bertha Henry and County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey.
During the September 20th County Commission meeting, Commissioner Wexler wondered if YAA was “playing games” in negotiations with the County. Despite YAA failure to live up to its previous deals with the County, officials have been open to making the partnership with the museum continue. Wexler asked why the amended contract, which was due in July, had not been presented to the Commission. County Administrator Henry said YAA officials blamed the delay on board member vacations. Wexler noted that 19 board members had resigned following the scathing report from the County’s consultant; The report had singled out undisclosed payments to Zack and Ali Shrago Spechler as possible violations of YAA’s deal with the County.
“Is the ultimate goal to wait until I am out of office? Because that’s exactly–I thought that was–That has been the goal for the last year,” Wexler asked. “And if this is a game that is being played it’s time to call their bluff.”
Wexler concluded, “This is something that has been going on way, way, way too long.”