Supporters of the Detroit Institute of Arts gathered at New Center Park Tuesday evening to rally to keep the art museum open.
On August 7, voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will have the opportunity to pass or strike down a millage that would generate $23 million annually for 10 years for the cash-strapped institution, costing $20 for the owner of a $200,000 home. Without additional funding, the museum says it will be on the road to closing.
Supporters have pointed to the low cost of the millage and the value of the institution for the region.
"You go to Comerica Park and buy two beers, you pay for one year of the DIA," said Dion Williams, one of the "Save the DIA" campaign's organizers. "We need to appreciate the treasures we have."
Norman Buright, who listened to speeches as he sat next to one of the many "Vote Yes" signs, said as a musician, the museum and its programming was important to him.
"I love just about all of it," he said. Buright has come to the museum since the 1960s.
After Mayor Dave Bing, art lovers as diverse as a teacher, a high school student and Channel 955 DJ Spike got up before the crowd to sing the museum's praises.
DIA COO Annmarie Erickson took the stage to explain what the millage would allow beyond keeping the lights on. Counties that approve the millage will receive free admission for their residents; programs for senior citizens will expand; a teacher curriculum program will be revived and the DIA will increase community outreach.
Opposition to the millage protest the use of tax dollars to support the museum, and some insist the institution has exaggerated the direness of its financial situation.
But with a new poll released to the Detroit Free Press showing 69 percent of voters surveyed (237 adults in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne) support the millage, it seems likely the museum will receive the funding they say they need to stay open.
"We are one of the things that makes Detroit, Detroit," Erickson said.
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