Vivian Phillips, an experienced and respected arts manager and former director of communications for Mayor Paul Schell, is stepping into the top spot at the troubled Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, effective next Thursday. Phillips's title will be contingent manager of the Center, and the job lasts one year. Phillips will report directly to the new Parks Superintendent, Tim Gallagher, and she will provide "one final point of leadership" at the Center, which has struggled with conflicts among the artistic director, the managing director, Parks, volunteers, and others. She will use the year to stabilize the Center, continue and focus a planning process, and suggest long-term changes. No change in mission is on the table, Phillips said, and the staff is staying in place. The dispute about artistic director Jacqueline Moscou, who remains on administrative leave and claims she was pushed out for being "too pro-black," as her attorney puts it, remains unresolved. Phillips will spend the next month hearing out the many stakeholders at the Center, located in an refurbished historic synagogue in the Central District. Her first impressions are that the Center is "reasonably capitalized," largely from Parks funds, that it has been "really cracking" in terms of vital programming in the past year. and that the main problem is "ambiguity about leadership." There seems to be no interest in pulling the Center out from under the City and Parks supervision and funding, though an advisory council might receive greater say. The core dedication to the cultures of African Americans, youth, and other ethnic communities is likely to stay firm. Two encouraging aspects of the story: Phillips is personable and widely respected in African American and artistic circles and so is likely to be able to enforce some decisions, and the city's new Parks superintendent showed his style for getting directly involved, talking candidly with all participants, and putting his personal commitment on the line for the year ahead.