Detroit Institute of Arts turns a corner with innovative funding scheme

Posted on: August 17, 2012

“When it comes to the fine arts, things are really, really rough all over,” writes Terry Teachout in Friday’s (8/17) Wall Street Journal. “That’s why everybody in the art world is now talking about the Detroit Institute of Arts. … The DIA, as Judith H. Dobrzynski recently reported in the Journal, no longer receives public funding from the city of Detroit or the state of Michigan, both of which have been hit brutally hard by the current economic downturn. … DIA director Graham Beal responded by hacking away at the museum’s budget and raising enough money to retire its current debt. But he knew that the DIA was doing no better than running in place, and that the fiscal road ahead would soon grow sharply steeper. What to do? Mr. Beal went to the voters, asking the residents of Michigan’s Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to pass a modest 10-year-long dedicated property-tax increase known as a ‘millage.’ It would supply up to $23 million in public funding each year for the next decade—91% of the DIA’s annual operating budget—thus buying time for Mr. Beal and his colleagues to build up the museum’s operating endowment to the point where it can bring in sufficient income to pay the bills. … Residents of every county that passed the millage would be admitted free to the DIA. … All three counties passed the millage.”

Posted August 17, 2012