Detroit Institute of Arts: We save Detroit $35 million per year

DIA says sale of art to pay debt leads to financial burden for Detroit


DETROIT – The Detroit Institute of Arts says they saved the city $35 million per year since the not-for-profit organization took over daily operations of the museum in 1997.

In light of the challenges now facing the city, the DIA says the savings and benefits that the DIA will provide over the next 10 years will vastly exceed the Belle Isle savings that are now being celebrated.

Read: State management of Belle Isle to save Detroit $4 million yearly.

The DIA's current operating budget is $35 million a year, with not a single dime coming from the city. Over the next 10 years, the DIA will save the city $350 million in operating expenses, not taking into account any inflationary increase in costs.

The DIA says they also invest approximately $2 million annually to the city-owned museum building and grounds.

The key component of the DIA's current financial model is the regional millage that was approved by voters in 2012. Detroit taxpayers support the museum, along with taxpayers in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The millage will provide at least $23 million over 10 years—$230 million to support the regional institution located in Midtown.

Read: EM Orr hires auction house to appraise DIA collection.

The organization maintains that the sale of even one piece of art to pay Detroit's debts would have a catastrophic effect on the museum, the city and region. Public officials in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have made clear their view that any sale of art as a part of the bankruptcy could invalidate or lead to the repeal of the millage, demolishing nearly two-thirds of the DIA's operating budget and sending the museum into slow but certain closure.

Currently museum operations are independent of the city budget. No city funds are involved in the day-to-day operation of the museum.

In fact, The DIA says closing the museum would impose a new financial burden on the city estimated at $4 to $6 million annually, as the city would assume the costs of maintaining another closed building and securing the remaining collection.