Letter to the Editor: A Case for the DIA Arts Millage

"The case for the DIA millage is compelling ... for future growth in the arts and the economy. That is pretty good return for about $15 per year," one area resident says.

This letter was received by Birmingham Patch Editor Laura Houser.

Voters in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties will be asked Aug. 7 to approve 0.2 mils for 10 years, which is approximately $15 per year for every $150,000 of a home’s fair market value. This money will go to provide one of many sources of funding needed to support a world-class art museum: the Detroit Institute of Arts.

As the vote nears for the Arts Millage in southeast Michigan, I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is an irreplaceable resource that brings incredible works of art, film, music, and so much more to our collective Detroit community. I personally choose to pay for a membership so I can enjoy these treasures many times throughout the year. My experiences at the DIA have been positive, exhilarating, educational, fun, and memorable.

Residents living in counties that approve the millage will receive free unlimited general admission, including students taking field trips to the museum, and there will be enhanced programs for students and seniors and bus subsidies for visits by seniors and students.

Making this resource available to residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties for no admission fee will broaden the ability of the DIA to reach out and enrich the lives of the people living here. Additionally, it will put the DIA on sound financial footing, helping to offset the losses in other funding sources that have occurred over many years.

I also see the DIA as a resource that can help lead the Detroit region out of a recession.

Detroit is already attracting young people, and it has particularly seen a surge of young adults under 35 years old with technology-based backgrounds. The writings of economic development adviser Richard Florida and others have documented how young people are seeking "place" over the highest-paying job. A world-class art museum and the other cultural resources in Detroit will help to fuel the growth in young professionals living in the City.

The overall value of the arts in a community is well-documented. Adrian Ellis, a cultural planning consultant, wrote and spoke in 2003 about four sets of partially overlapping arguments that have been particularly influential:

Economic: Investment in certain arts has a high "multiplier effect," generating direct and indirect expenditure, through the first round of construction or other investment related activity and subsequently by attracting inward investment and tourism, and thereby creating jobs.
Social: Investment in the arts can ease social divisions by creating a context in which otherwise socially disempowered groups can participate in society on a more equal basis; and it creates ‘social capital’.
Psychological and personal: Participation in the arts can accelerate intellectual and motor skills.
Civic: The civic argument, an amalgam of the above, is that a city with a vibrant cultural infrastructure, in which a range of different forms of public and private sector investment in the arts are undertaken, can create a virtuous circle of high economic performance, high inward investment, high educational attainment and high levels of civic engagement.

I believe the case for the DIA millage is compelling. Its failure would be disastrous for the region’s economy, its culture, and its people.

By approving the millage, the DIA not only maintains the treasures of the past, it enables the museum and the region to leverage these resources for future growth in the arts and the economy.

That is pretty good return for about $15 per year.

Rod Arroyo

For more on this Topic 

Alan Stamm July 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Detroit Metro Times gets on board today: "Frankly, we have a hard time remaining even a little bit civil when we hear the no-tax crowd whine about having all taxpayers fund something that not everyone uses. They miss the point, which is this: There are things that benefit us all, even if we don't use them. ". . . We're only talking about a measly 15 bucks a year. What's really shocking is that anyone at all would be raising a stink over paying such a piddling amount to help fund something as important to this region as the DIA." [http://bit.ly/O7ndw9]
Shelby Township July 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I don't see how the DIA, with $100 million of unrestricted funds and a total fund balance of $175 million, can claim that they'll fail (close their doors) without these millages. Part of their operating plan is to increase their fund balance to $400 million by the time the millages expire in 10 years. Doesn't sound like they're going broke to me. It just looks like they want the tri-county taxpayers to bail them out from the tax cuts they received from the state. If this was such a good plan why don't the ballot proposals mention that the County Art Institute Authorities will be turning over the monies they collect to the DIA? Why do they say an Institute Services Provider instead? Was this done to confuse voters into thinking the millages were going to support Art in their own county? Very shady.
Isaac Barr MD July 27, 2012 at 02:05 PM
The DIA millage is meant to support the salary of Graham Beal which is $435.000 more than the salary of US president. It is meant to support Ms Erickson $280.000 salary. DIA has 185.000.000 dollars cash in the bank most of which can be used without restriction. The media was bought by DIA. DIA is the property of the city of Detroit which contribute nothing to the up keep. YES, DIA is a gem but it is not about the institute, it is about ADMINISTRATION OF MONEY. DIA millage is corrupt. They do not need your money. They will not close. The 23 million annual revenue will come ON TOP of existing revenue of 35 millions annually. TRI County residents will invest in 10 years 230 millions at least and will get NOTHING in return. While police is layed off in Detroit we will have a Gem of a museum surrounded by crime and murder. We need police first....Wake up Michigan! You were screwed with the zoo millage, now it is DIA, tomorrow the African American museum and 20 other deserving cultural institutions.
Neal Charness July 27, 2012 at 03:17 PM
After Mr Baar's misrepresentations throughout the school bond issue I would urge people to simply disregard anything he says. I don't as yet have a position on the millage but he is simply not a trustworthy source of information. This is the same person that said the school district funded One Bloomfield United. Get your information from other sources.
Joan July 28, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Vote No to ANY new taxes!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »