What Does $15 a Year Get You? How About A Better Art Museum?

The Detroit Institute of Arts is asking voters for a little help: A millage that would support the DIA for another decade.

Voters in the tri-county area will have a chance to turn thumbs up (or down) on a millage that would bring in a total of $23 million annually from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

The DIA gets no public money from anybody — city, state or federal authorities. The new millage would cost the owner of a $150,00 home about $15 a year.

Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson tells us about the campaign, and interviews two supporters.


  1. Kevin Grand says:

    The DIA is being disingenuous to the voters regarding their “need” for the art tax.

    The DIA is telling us that the tax is necessary to help create an endowment.

    What art tax supporters are loathe to admit is the fact that not only does the DIA have OVER $175-million in endowment money right now

    ($100 million in unrestricted cash in the bank and another $75 million in restricted endowment), but the DIA also has about $182-million additional in net assets.



    The DIA is does not efficiently manage its resources.

    The DIA is extremely generous in paying its board compared to other “world-class” institutions.

    Some examples:

    DIA Director, President & CEO Graham Beal Total Compensation: $426,699
    DIA Executive Vice President & COO Annemarie Erickson Total Compensation: $236,869
    DIA Vice President & CFO Loren Lau Total Compensation: $201,816
    DIA Vice President Museum Operations Elliott Broom Total Compensation: $154,136
    DIA Director of the Campaign Margaret Falcon Total Compensation: $154,119
    DIA Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections Strategies David Penney Total Compensation: $151,606
    DIA Director of Membership and Annual Fund Kim Baker Total Compensation: $125,955

    Source (page 32):


    Compare this to what the Director of the Louvre Henri Loyrette is making, approximately $109,000.



    The DIA claims that it doesn’t have the money to keep its doors open, yet it has $1.45-million to spend on an ad campaign to promote an art tax.



    Finally, the ballot language itself is deceitful. A millage that is being promoted to fund the DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS, does not mention DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS anywhere on the ballot



    (page 2)


    (page 11)


    (page 32)

    Finally, DIA Director Graham Beal has publically stated that the DIA is not interested in generating revenue through its own efforts.

    In February 2012, during a Detroit Free Press article on the “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” Exhibit, Mr. Graham is quoted as saying about the exhibit, ” The strong box office for Rembrandt is a boon to the bottom line. An especially expensive show to mount, it was budgeted at $1.8 million and was always expected to lose money.”

    “Always expected to lose money”???

    A museum that is telling us to trust them with a new tax, isn’t concerned about losing money.

    I can go on, but it should be readily apparent

    The DIA and its supporters are being disingenuous, at best, to the voters regarding their “need” for the art tax.

    Their financial assets are really far stronger than they are telling voters and their management priorities leave to be desired.

    For these reasons, I urge everyone to vote “NO” on the DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS Tax August 7th.

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