Detroit's impoverished save DIA

"But at the base of all those settlements was the grand bargain, which, in addition to preserving the museum’s vaunted collection, allowed Detroit to grant all of its retirees a better deal than first expected. The arrangement moves the art collection into a private trust that is bankruptcy-proof, while the money from foundations, museum donors and the state goes to the pension plans over the next two decades."
Finding $816 Million and Fast, to Save Detroit, New York Times, November 7, 2014

The Grand Bargain did not save Detroit; the DIA was involuntarily saved by Detroit's working class and poor. This is a sad story of an impoverished city involuntarily giving up the opportunity for a better future for the sake of keeping an art collection in tact. What is missing in this article is that much of the mufti-billion dollar art collection is owned by the city. Admittedly the exact amount owned by the city is not clear because the total art collection was not appraised and the ownership was never litigated. Initial discussions put the value of the art between $10 and $15 billion with the city owning much of the collection.

Most people agree a key ingredient to overcome poverty is education. In order for Detroit to turn around and prosper it must grow its middle class. The middle class in southeast Michigan is not going to move to Detroit without a good school system and Detroit's system is one of the worst in the state. Think what a few billion dollars and a decade of hard work could do to the quality of education at the Detroit Public School system. Now put yourself in the shoes of one of the owners of the art at the DIA , an impoverished citizen of the city. Would you rather keep your art in tact at the DIA or invest in your children's future by building one of the best school systems in the state. If you are honest with yourself you would select your children's future. Unfortunately these citizens were deprived a vote by the rich and powerful.

Further, there were other ways the city could have raised the $800 million for retirees.


  1. Super commentary!! Plenty of other solutions to for 'rust belt' cities to recover

  2. So the economic interest of the city was short-changed because of low economic savvy.

  3. Excellent article -- no stones left unturned.


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