The Great Masters and Detroit
Last night after falling asleep I was visited by some great masters including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh and Edgar DeGas who have some of their famous works stored at the DIA and owned by the citizens of Detroit. Some of these works include a sketch of ceiling of Sistine Chapel, Rembrandt's Mother, Le Combat, The Diggers and Jockeys on horseback before distant hills. During this period of crisis and bankruptcy, I asked them what they would like Detroit to do with their master pieces.The unanimous answer came quickly.
“Sell our artwork and use it to help those owning the art, the citizens of Detroit.”
Picasso spoke up saying there would be no greater glory for him than to see his efforts of centuries ago going towards helping the city's senior citizens, rebuilding safe and pleasant neighborhoods and providing the best public schools possible for future generations to learn, grow and prosper. He also said he would be honored if some of the names of schools were changed to the names of the Masters to demonstrate the appreciation by the city's residents.
Michelangelo, creator of Decoration of ceiling of Sistine Chapel, chimed in saying what better and lasting tribute could their be for him than to know he played a major role in turning the great city of Detroit around along with its public school system. He envisioned DPS becoming one of the best public school systems in not only the state, but the entire country.
Michelangelo went on to say the rebuilding should be done cautiously and with great deliberation. Whenever he was inspired to paint he did not immediately grab a brush. He first planned it out and created the masterpiece in his mind. Next he sketched it with paper and pencil, revising it a dozen times until everything was right. Only then did he grab a brush and begin applying paint to canvass. The painting took months and sometimes years for him to get right. He then paused, reflected, saying the same will be with the city. Rebuilding the city and bringing it back to greatness will not happen overnight.
Picasso chimed in stating the best, lasting way to bring back Detroit was to rebuild its school system.
“ Throughout the ages the number one objective of parents has been to assure their children have a better and more prosperous, fulfilling future than they did. What better way to do that than to turn DPS into the best public school system in the area.”
If the city accomplishes this, suburban families will be motivated to move back to Detroit. The result will be an increase in population of the middle class, an increase in the value of housing and an increase in revenue flowing to the city in the form of property taxes. Rembrandt reminded everyone that commercial activity will also pick up as a result for an increase in demand for goods and services from the new residents. All this will take time and much effort.
Several of the Maters spoke up and compared the rebirth of Detroit to the success of Facebook and other social media companies. Without a large number of subscribers, Facebook would not be the success it is today. The Masters' expanded their thinking and said the DIA adds far less value to the city than does an increase in the middle class population. Like Facebook, the city needs a strong middle and upper class. The DIA does not draw new citizens. It draws visitors.
It is time the Emergency Manager do what is best for the citizens of Detroit and not what is in the best interest of the DIA and its donors. Kevyn Orr's job is to minimize the funds going to the creditors and optimize the utilization of assets owned by the city for the long-term good of the municipality.