Tag Archives: Michigan

The Detroit Institute of Arts: Worth Fighting For?

Last Tuesday, voters in the metro-Detroit, Michigan, area passed a millage to fund the Detroit Institute of Arts for a 10-year period.

The August 7th election included Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Wayne County voters passed the millage by 68.15%, Oakland County by 63.68%. Macomb County, a tough sell, squeaked it by at 50.5%.

Just before the election I received a robo-call from the Michigan Taxpayer Alliance, an anti-tax group in Macomb County opposing this millage. The recording warned me that the “Detroit Elite” want to spend my money. No definition for this “Detroit Elite” was given.

Possible Detroit Elite:

  • Some wealthy Detroiters that want their art and not pay for it too?
  • A group of starving artistic types that feel entitled to other people’s money to fuel their personal passions?
  • Millionaires caught backing art museums in Switzerland while those in Detroit suffer?
  • Low-income Detroit families scamming the northern suburbs to fund their addiction to art galleries when they only deserve to live by bread alone?

I’m not a fan of big tax increases and I believe that government tends to be highly inefficient. But my mind was already set to vote Yes on this millage.

Everyone has their sacred cows and museum funding is one of mine. I grew up rather poor without many frills and no grand vacations. My father took me to the Detroit Historical Museum on one of his Saturday afternoon custody visits with me. I immediately fell in love and wanted to go there all the time. Then I was taken to the Detroit Institute of Arts and fell in love again.

Great beauty and evil live in museums. We can enjoy the best of what the human spirit offers within those walls. Also, museums keep us from forgetting the potential for evil within all of us. With that knowledge and with some luck, we won’t repeat the worst events in history.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is part of a wonderful museum district that includes: the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; the Detroit Historical Museum (closed for renovations until November 2012); and the Detroit Science Center (closed due to lack of funding).

I’m glad the millage passed. Maybe I can now count myself among the Detroit Elite?