Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Because Art Museums Pay Pensions Now

Detroit is out of bankruptcy! Which is amazing, since prospects for the city were looking extremely dim. At many times during negotiations, creditors of the city look to the DIA Museum in Detroit to sell some of its multi-billion dollar collection to pay back on the debt. The collection was alas saved as art advocates and the museum itself fought ferociously to keep the masterpieces in the city of Detroit. As part of the big deal, the Detroit Institute of Art will have to pay $100 million towards the city’s pension fund, and the museum has happily stated it is already well on its way to meeting that goal.

Yesterday, Andrew briefly mentioned how arts organizations may find themselves doing completely different things than they intended to do, and I’m sure adding a line in the budget for city worker’s pensions was not something in the original DIA charter. Yet on the other hand, when trying to show people how the arts play a crucial and relevant role in their lives, this can be the biggest thing an arts organizations has done. Helping to save the workers of Detroit who were hit tremendously hard during the economic crash of 2009 and are still on a long, hard road to full recovery, seeing a museum who bears the cities name happily support the city in which it is situated, in my opinion, can greatly help the relationship between the arts and community which is something I think museums have strived to do, but have ultimately failed at achieving.

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2 comments on “Because Art Museums Pay Pensions Now

  1. gormleykimberly
    November 11, 2014

    Hold up, where is this 100 million coming from? While I agree that contributing to city workers pensions is a good thing, I don’t understand where this money is coming from, and where it was when the museum was in danger of losing its collection. Something isn’t adding up.

  2. hgenetos
    November 14, 2014

    My brother and his new wife have called Detroit home for the last 4 years. They have watched the city find itself again. You can see the difference between visits. There are large swaths of the city that are completely empty upon first glance and maybe you notice a few homes that aren’t boarded up. You drive by blocks that completely burned to the ground because it was easier on everyone for the fire department to keep the flames from hoping to a new block that had people living there rather than fight the fires at empty homes. Then you come across areas that people have moved back to where old warehouses and factories are being outfitted with the first Whole Foods in downtown Detroit.

    I understand Kim’s hesitancy with where the money comes from. The ArtNet article does not go into that. The New York Times one really does explain it well. I suggest it for a better understanding of the logistics of it.

    Lastly, I end with a request of everyone to go visit Detroit. See what happens to a city when its people, industries and government give up on it and see what happens when the arts step in to save it! There are so many great art experiences throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs at various mile roads. And there are even more opportunities for artists’ studios and spaces in the old buildings and for other arts to be shown. The D is awesome. GO VISIT!!!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/08/arts/design/grand-bargain-saves-the-detroit-institute-of-arts.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=5

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