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Best Hope for the Detroit Institute of Arts

The people

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Visit the DIA's website and you'll see the latest on great goings-on. Free Friday night music, award-winning films, world-renowned offerings from the standing collection (such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder's "The Wedding Dance" and the Rivera murals). What you don't get is the sense of how precarious it all is. With the city and state support now zeroed out, the museum is throwing a hail Mary pass by seeking a 0.2 mill property tax in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Without that kind of a cash infusion, museum Director Graham Beal foresees an institution open only for limited weekend hours, a rump institution. Wayne County Commissioners have OK'd a ballot measure, which would raise an annual $9 million if passed. Oakland County is still undecided on authorizing a ballot measure to raise an estimated $11 million; Macomb commissioners nixed and at press time were reconsidering a ballot measure to raise $3 million. Residents of counties passing millages would get free admission and bragging rights as arts patrons and saviors. Past efforts for cultural taxes have had mixed success (no to a 16-institution cultural tax, no to an earlier DIA proposal, yes to the Detroit Zoo). Could energizing the base of artists and arts lovers make a crucial difference for the DIA this time? 

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