08/06/2012 02:00 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

Protect a Detroit Gem: Vote YES on County Art Authority to Support the DIA

We have institutional gems in Detroit that other cities envy. Many times we take them for granted. One of these gems, which needs our support, is the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

I support the Wayne County Art Institute Authority millage.

According to the City Council's Fiscal Analyst, the DIA has " of the largest, most significant art collections in the United States. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally-owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars."

Due to financial constraints, Detroit entered into a 20-year agreement to create The Detroit Institute of Arts non-profit corporation in February 1998. This arrangement removed the financial burden of maintaining and operating the facility from the City of Detroit and placed it upon the non-profit.

We are now in the agreement's fourteenth year.

This treasure is a premier host for major events and exhibits, which is continually shared by the entire region.

With the economic conditions the past several years, the DIA has cut its operational budget.
Even though it's responsibly managing its assets, the DIA could potentially close its doors several days a week or permanently without regional tax support.

The millage to support the DIA through the Wayne County Art Institute Authority will cost the average Wayne County homeowner between $15 and $18 annually and will raise approximately $8 million for the museum. In return for this investment from residents, the DIA will provide unlimited, free general admission for Wayne County residents and free self-guided tours for all Wayne County students.

Under the millage, the DIA will also provide support for student bus subsidies and will expand its senior outreach program to include new tours and transportation subsidies. DIA educators will work with Wayne County schools to develop curriculum-based programming for students, and the museum will expand its community outreach efforts throughout the county, including the popular Inside/Out program.

These benefits at the DIA will also apply to residents in Macomb and Oakland counties upon approval of their individual county art authority ballot measures.

It is a known fact that cultural institutions are a draw for new residents. These attractions provide educational and entertainment opportunities envied by numerous, less fortunate metropolitan areas.

We are fortunate to have the DIA and need to keep it moving forward for all to enjoy. I support the millage and encourage you to vote YES this Tuesday, August 7 during the Primary Election.