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The battle to protect the Detroit institute of Arts

— December 2013

Associated media

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)

In June of this year we featured an interview between Janet Stiles Tyson and Graham Beal, the British-born director of the embattled Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The citizens of Detroit love DIA so much they voted to pay extra taxes to support it, but there are those in the city and beyond who would like to sell the art collection to help pay the city’s debts. Janet now brings us up to date.

The fate of artworks in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts and pensions for city workers have been the most disputed issues arising from the City of Detroit’s entry into Chapter 9 Bankruptcy, which a federal judge approved on 3 December. Yet the means to resolve both may be in the making, as another judge involved in the case has launched a drive to raise enough private monies to effectively ransom the museum’s collection and fund workers’ pensions.

US Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen is negotiating with 10 Michigan-linked charitable foundations to raise $500 million – a sum that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has identified as a sufficient amount for the DIA to contribute to help resolve Detroit’s financial crisis. Furthermore, as of 6 December, Detroit-area philanthropist, A. Paul Schaap, has pledged to contribute $5 million as inducement for others to follow. Additionally, Tom Guastello, chairman of the Oakland County Arts Authority, has said he will lobby wealthy residents of his county to contribute to such a fund. Oakland is one of three counties, along with Wayne and Macomb counties, whose residents voted to pay additional property taxes in order to support operation of the DIA for 10 years.

One of Rosen’s goals is to establish the DIA as a non-profit corporation, entirely separated from the City of Detroit and thus protect it from any of the city’s financial difficulties. The idea is potentially controversial... Subscribers click here to read on

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Reporting by Janet Stiles Tyson

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