I know some of you are all caught up in the goings-on in Detroit and are wondering why I’m not commenting. It’s simple, really: while this is serious to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and director Graham Beal must take it seriously, I’ve always believe that the DIA is simply caught up in a local political dance that, at some point (hopefully soon), will end without a single piece of art being sold. As it should. But the politics has to play out, and hang-wringing won’t help.
Today, the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette put out what Eden Burgess, a lawyer at Cultural Heritage Partners in Washington, D.C., said in the Detroit Free Press was “a strong opinion” saying that the state cannot legally sell the art in question. This is good, and welcome, though apparently it doesn’t end the legal issues. But it may be the beginning of the end, or at least the end of the beginning.
So what can one do?
Surprisingly, there’s no petition against the sale on Change.org, and not much support for the one I discovered at MoveOn.org, which currently has just 8,539 signatures, or the one at YouPower.org, which has just 243 signatures at the moment. You can sign it.
I’ve checked the public pulse at Facebook, where the DIA now has 223,000 “likes,” which is far about the nearly 116,000 it had in April 2012, after a concerted campaign. There, supporters are out. You can join them.
One big, seemingly untapped source of support is the business community is — I have not found any statements against the sale. But what if Ford, General Motors, and all the other companies, large and small, stated just how important it is to have a vibrant cultural sector for economic purposes? If you’re a shareholder, ask them.
Unfortunately, I still think it’s a waiting game for those of us who do not live in Detroit and can’t vote. But perhaps even a symbolic gesture would help.