DETROIT — The Detroit Institute of Arts has been a vital part of the community for 127 years. With more than 400,000 annual visitors, the DIA is one of America's most visitor friendly museums. But the DIA is at risk of closing its doors.
Voting "yes" on an Aug. 7 millage ballot proposal will help keep it open. By voting "yes" on the millage the DIA will continue to allow free, unlimited admission. The DIA is asking for 0.2 mil for 10 years, which would cost approximately $15 per year for every $150,000 of a home's fair market value. The counties included in the millage are Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
If a 0.2 mil levy is successful in all three counties the amount of revenue that would be generated by each county would raise approximately $23 million: $10 million in Oakland County, $8 million in Wayne County and approximately $5 million in Macomb County.
The DIA has been supported by public funds from 1893 to the early 1990s. For nearly 100 years the city general fund and private philanthropy provided sole support for the museum as it grew to become one of the world's major art museums. An appropriately sized operating endowment-an important component of the business model for most large cultural organizations was never established.
In the 1970s the state recognized the museum's unique contribution to the entire state and incorporated financial support for the museum into the state budget. Beginning in the early 1990s state support for the museum was slowly but steadily reduced, a situation that was accelerated as a series of economic downturns hit the state.
At the same time the city's ability to support the museum was sharply reduced until all city funding was eliminated. Today the DIA does not receive any funds from the state, city or county. The elimination of all public funding for operations has required the museum to turn entirely to the private sector, an operating model that is not sustainable, particularly in the current economy. The museum's ultimate goal is to become financially self-sustaining.
After considerable research and evaluation, a dedicated millage to temporarily restore public funding for the DIA, which would allow fundraising to focus on building an operating endowment, was identified as the most viable option to guarantee the DIA's continuing viability and eventual non-reliance on public funding. For more information visit www.artisforeveryone.org.