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Happy Ending: Detroit Director Graham Beal’s Live Chat on the Millage Passage


Adding a bravura coda to his well orchestrated (and successful) campaign for the tri-county passage a property levy (millage) to support operations at the Detroit Institute of Arts, its director, Graham Beal, has just concluded a live web chat (moderated by the Detroit Free PressMark Stryker), in which he answered questions from the community.

Lee’s question, relayed to Beal by Stryker near the end of the hour, never got a response. So how about it, Graham: “What are your ideas for making the DIA more successful at fundraising for the endowment?”

I realize that doesn’t lend itself to a pat “chat” answer. But the unanswerable question remains: How is the DIA going to secure its long-term future, once it’s off the life support of a 10-year cash infusion?

The one tough question on the live chat concerned the fate of the DIA’s collection, if the hard-pressed city of Detroit, which owns the art, were to go bankrupt. Might the collection be liquidated as an asset?

Beal replied:

Although the city indeed owns the collection, under the current operating agreement, the DIA has total discretion over it. In the event of a bankruptcy, things get legally cloudy [emphasis added], but I feel confident, for various reasons, “Ain’t gonna happen.”

We can only hope they don’t ever have to test that hypothesis.

In his final comment, Beal stressed the positive takeaway from this major test of public support for his beleaguered institution:

I’ve had an unusual number of comments from fellow art museum directors
thanking the DIA for driving home the great importance of art museums to
the community.

an ArtsJournal blog