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Letter: Art is for Everyone

A Dearborn resident implores his neighbors to join him in voting "yes" for the DIA millage.

I am a resident of Dearborn and am writing to ask my neighbors in Wayne County to join me in supporting the Detroit Institute of Arts by voting YES for our county’s art institute authority on Aug. 7.

The DIA has a world-class collection that could never be replaced and it’s one that we need to protect and keep available for our county. It’s because of this collection and the museum’s international stature that the DIA can attract exhibitions such as Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus and the current Five Spanish Masterpieces.

It’s also a testament to the DIA’s commitment to our county and region that the museum offers programs such as Friday Night Live! at the museum and Inside|Out in our communities. These programs are specifically designed to help the citizens of our communities better understand and connect with art in the museum’s collection.

The .2 mil levy we are being asked to approve for the next 10 years is only $10 to $15 for the average Wayne County household. If we approve the proposal, the Wayne County Art Institute Authority will collect, manage and distribute funds to the DIA, in exchange for guaranteed services from the museum, including free  admission for Wayne County residents, including school groups, and expanded programs and exhibitions.

I believe $10 to $15 annually is a small fee to keep the DIA, a remarkable cultural attraction, in our region and for our residents. Please join me in voting YES for the Wayne County Art Institute Authority on Aug.7 and join me in ensuring the DIA remains open.

Kenneth Szmigiel
Dearborn resident

Mark White August 04, 2012 at 10:28 PM
In its DIA, Detroit has millions in cash but billions -- many, many billions! -- in artworks. Those millions in cash, even adding a DIA millage's $230 million, can't save the DIA from a Detroit bankruptcy -- Detroit's DIA art collection will be the first City asset auctioned off! Those billions in artworks, though, can keep Detroit out of bankruptcy. Detroit can raise billions to secure its finances by selling its artworks outright (not good! -- it loses the DIA!!) or it can secure its finances and its DIA by selling innovative investment vehicles that let art investors gain from artwork values rising as DIA masterpieces hang -- forever secured and insured for public viewing and investor appreciation -- on DIA walls (not bad!!). Let's really save the DIA... Forget the millage, activate the artworks!!
Lee Jacobsen August 05, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Mark...billions??? hardly! Also , your ownership provenance is flawed, art was donated to the museum, not the City of Detroit. There is an old saying, something like, give a man a fish, he is fed for a day, give a man a fishing pole, he can feed himself and his family indefinitely. Detroit needs to fix their haphazard system of indiscriminate spending, lack of organization, etc, they have administration in place for a city of 1.8 million, not the current 750,000. They need to go into bankruptcy to get a 'wake up' call. Adding air to a deflating tire only delays the fix, ditto for using Detroit's art assets to prop up the current leak of common sense in Detroit. Mark, it is easy to comment on Detroit's fate and current mode of operation from afar, do you have any first hand experience dealing with Detroit administration? My direct business experience, and many others, bodes that Detroit is still looking for answers, and one is union reform. Detroit is broke. Costs need to be slashed. Non-union services and employees have been cut. The Unions in Detroit are in denial regarding similar cuts. http://www.freep.com/article/20120718/NEWS01/207180434/Detroit-City-Council-s-vote-to-reject-36-102M-in-union-cuts-doesn-t-change-a-thing Time for the Detroit Unions to save Detroit by joining , rather than resisting, reality. Let them pay some healthcare benefits like the rest of us rather than possibly selling Detroit's Art heritage. Vote yes for the millage.
Adel Adel August 05, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Why cant they just raise admission price to the DIA? Let those who visit the DIA pay for it. I would rather the $10 to $15 per household pay for extra police, fire fighters or even improvements to the roads.
Art August 05, 2012 at 10:11 PM
How much do the administrators of the DIA earn each year? Do they pay medical? How about their retirement plan? How much have they given up in pay and benefits in the last few years? Have admission prices been raised? What about an endowment fund? What about employees of the museum? How many have been laid off? What about pay and benefits concessions? What have they given up lately? What about legacy costs? Sorry, until I know what administration has done to lower costs, I'm voting "no".
Dearborn Taxpayer August 05, 2012 at 11:32 PM
It appears that even with its "international stature," the folks running the DIA can't generate enough revenue to remain solvent and now need a bailout from the taxpayers. The DIA is spending over $1 million to convince voters to bail them out. But then spending $1 million to confiscate $23 million from taxpayers isn't such a bad deal for the art executives and it will only cost me $20 a year! Taxpayers have bailed out bankers, then GM and Chrysler, and now a non-profit that's holding millions of dollars of art assets. Yet another great deal for taxpayers, but I'll pass and vote NO!
Allan Ranusch August 07, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Great thinking. The National Archives are also tax subsidized rather than generating their own money to remain solvent. Maybe you could arrange to sell off the declaration of independence and the constitution to an oil billionare? I'm sure it could shave a few cents off your annual tax bill also.

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