Will Ford and Kresge Save DIA?

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Detroit Institute of the Arts, Director, Graham Beal Photo via Bluin Artinfo

Live tweets from the Association of Art Museum Directors meeting in New Orleans last night revealed that Detroit Art Institute director, Graham Beal, was going public with news of a “grand bargain” between city mediators and a number of interested national and local foundations, including the Kresge Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The news, breaking since December amidst rumors and paranoia, came just hours before headlines in The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News announced that negotiations, while still in progress, and still entangled in some sticky complications, seemed to be promising some dramatic relief in the form of some $300 — $500 million dollars.

Oddly, Beal was paraphrased in AAMD’s tweets as stating that DIA itself had been locked out of negotiations and had little to do with the deals:

Tweeted @MuseumDirectors, “Beal: @DIADetroit has had very little to do w/negotiations. They have happened around us; I have never met the Emergency Manger #AAMDNOLA”

The plan to leverage foundation support has been largely driven by U.S. District Court chief judge Gerald Rosen, the Mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case, who called the foundations together this fall to discuss solutions for saving DIA’s collections and supporting pensioner’s claims. Ford Foundation CEO, Darren Walker, has also been cited as a booster, bringing other foundations on board.

Arts Funding Lags Behind Market Growth

ARTINFO, has produced a tidy little report about how three cities hit hard by the recession, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., are finding new ways to keep their art institutions afloat.

Los Angeles is proposing the repurposing of fees charged to government-funded construction and usually used toward new acquisitons, to support staffing for it’s 25 arts centers.

Detroit is leveraging social media to attract a younger audience; is it telling that the eggheaded DIA is also “reinstalling its collection in 2007 with simpler labels and more interactive elements?”

While Washington, D.C. seems to be seeing a slight resurgence in giving, it has also experienced an increase in cost due to inflation: it estimates that it will need to raise $3 million more than it did last year in a struggling game of catch up.

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