We are raising money to privatize the DIA collection so that it can be kept in the public trust in Detroit.
Detroit. The Motor City. Motown. Hockey Town.
The various names associated with Michigan's largest city attest to its wide range of cultural, economic, political, and social legacies.
It is no secret that Detroit has faced significant struggles in recent decades. In fact, the city's challenges have been highlighted in media the world over.
The latest challenge faced by the city are the bankruptcy proceedings that began earlier this year. The city's debts are significant, and many have floated the idea of liquidating the city's assets to pay creditors. One of the key cultural institutions that has been targeted is the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).
A number of commentators have advocated selling off the DIA collection, or significant parts of it, and using those proceeds to pay the city's debts. This would mean shipping art work out of Detroit to parts unknown. Others have sought to provide legal protection for the collection, saying that the collection exists in the public trust and therefore ought to be immune.
The challenge in large part consists in the reality that the city has ongoing obligations that it cannot realistically meet. The city also happens to be the owner of a collection that has been valued in the hundreds of millions, if not billions.
My plan is to privatize the DIA collection. The day-to-day operations of the institute are already the responsibility of a non-profit. But the art work is city property. So instead of selling the art work to just anyone and breaking up the collection, the idea is to sell the art work to the DIA itself. The city would get some funds for addressing its budget problems, and the collection would remain intact and be insulated from future leverage by political forces.
Judge Rosen, the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, has gathered together a number of institutions, particularly foundations, to pursue this kind of a plan. He's trying to get $500 million together to liberate the DIA from the threat of bankruptcy liquidation while keeping the collection in Detroit.
To "redeem" means to "buy back." This campaign is aimed at everyday people who think it would be a great tragedy and loss for the people of Detroit to lose access to these cultural treastures because of the missteps of the city government. We need to buy back, to redeem, the DIA from the threat of dissolution.
Certainly charitable foundations, large and small, have a role to play. But so do individuals. A former Wayne State University professor, Paul Schaap, has pledged $5 million to the DIA. That leaves $495 million to go to reach Judge Rosen's goal.
Read more about the DIA's dilemma and make a donation today:
Former Wayne State professor donates $5 million to the DIA and Detroit retirees
It's Time to Privatize the Detroit Institute of Arts
Rosen's plan could ease bankruptcy pain