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Posted on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Should Washtenaw County have been added to Detroit Institute of Arts millage?

By Staff


The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Eric Lacy |

After voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties Tuesday approved a 10-year millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts, the director told that initial polls in Washtenaw County showed high support for the tax here.

The 0.2-mill increase is expected to give the DIA $23 million annually — $10 million from Oakland, $8 million from Wayne and $5 million from Macomb, according to MLive.

But would Washtenaw County residents support the tax, since the DIA draws visitors throughout the region?

Director Graham Beal told MLive that supporters could have spent a lot of time and energy trying to get the issue on the Washtenaw ballot without succeeding.

Instead, they focused on the other counties this time. Residents there now receive free general admission.

Read the MLive interview with Beal here.

Previous coverage: Conan Smith: Washtenaw County not ready to embrace regional arts tax for DIA


martini man

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

Hell NO !!!!!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

For the record, DIA membership (including free admission, gift shop discount, etc.) starts at $65/yr individual ($60 senior). For $80, bring a "companion"; $110 covers a family or non-family group of four. All IRS and, possibly, state tax deductible. Reasonable enough, figuring otherwise paying $8 non-member per visit. But to pay $20 annual millage and get all admissions free - priceless.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

What concerns me is the field trips we take to the DIA. Going to be interesting t see what they do to outsiders. O I did hear the childrens museum will be reopening some time late this year or next. Someone bought it.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

Typical AA voter. Never saw a tax they did not like.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

The DIA is a great institution. No millage should be used to support it. Why? Because everyone that has an income should support it. There are people who cannot afford the extra money on their property lease (property tax) no matter how small. A good example are the property leasors in Detroit, no jobs, no money. Here is another burden placed on the retiree who is just or not making it in this economy. Property lease payments should be done away with so everyone owns their property and not the government.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

$20 a year is a drop in the bucket compared to what it actually could cost to keep it open. A great deal if you ask me. You go once? Especially their programs? Great deal. Wish I could have voted.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

well, why not apply that to every tax and every public institution?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Will there be a free shuttle provided to transport taxpayers to and from the DIA so they can afford to visit?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

Just vote for the regional mass transit milage and we will be all set.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

I wonder if that initial poll was just The city of Ann Arbor or actually Washtenaw County. I find too often Ann Arbor thinks they speak for the rest of Washtenaw County!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

No one is listening to Ann Arbor when it comes to mass mileages. Which is why the transportation dept no longer exists for a lot of us.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Mr. Beal need to get out of Detroit occasionally. Washtenaw should have been a party to this millage. What political factors were in the way? He does not elaborate. Why does Detroit continue to put up a wall between it an Washtenaw County?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

I think Mr. Beal is correct. go back and read the comments on the last article about this millage. A great many of the comments were about "us" not wanting to be a part of Detroit...and "we don't want any part of it". Conan Smith wanted this to be voted on and the lambasting he took on it very much supports Mr. Beal's statements.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

I would have appreciated free entrance


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Unless you live in a cardboard box or a van by the river, millage increase is not "free". Even if you rent, you subsidize through increased rent due to increased millage.

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

How many parents or grandparents will sit in front of the TV watching garbage, and complain about the cost of supporting a world class museum? Meanwhile, their kids watch garbage TV. They never get to visit the many great museums that are available because they live in Southern Michigan. Great educational opportunities their kids will always remember are squandered because the parents would rather sit around the house, or go shop for shoes. Or worse.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Why oppose the option to vote on this? If you don't like it, vote No. If you do, vote Yes. Is this not the American way? And the model put forth here is actually quite good. For once, you actually get a direct benefit for a tax! Free admission to DIA might also entice more people to visit.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

This idea of tax support for everything has to stop. If the DIA was in our county, maybe. How about we support Belle Isle too? What about all the stadiums?

Jeff Frank

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Ummm... did you happen to notice that part of the consent agreement between the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit turns operation of Belle Isle over to the State Park system?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Look at salaries first...


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

My answer to: mw The same people you are defending as "much poorer than me" are the same people who most likely did not go and "vote". It just blows my mind at how many people 18 and older "who" do not get out and vote, but want to complain about the outcome. I am not saying I would have voted for this tax millage any more than the Silver Dome or Comerica Park millage but I always vote. I Agree with arborain's rely, "And now that admission will be free for the three counties, I hope many "newbies" will take advantage of that." You can lead a horse to water but you can not make them drink!! Poor Me! Poor Me! I am tired of it!


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:43 a.m.

The only way I would support the millage is if the DIA is moved out of Detroit!!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:50 a.m.

Where it is located? Is actually not a bad location compared to where everything else is located. So you must be one of the ones who think Ypsilanti and Detroit are to be avoided. We are friendly folk. Come on down you will see.

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:53 a.m.


Fat Bill

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

How about folding the DIA and the Science Center into the Metroparks system? These are regional attractions the deserve regional support....and the entire region is that much more attractive (as in valuable) because of the presence of these institutions.

Dog Guy

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

I am not willing to risk my life by driving into Detroit. Let the DIA relocate to Fuller Park.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:50 a.m.

Been there and nothing yet so far


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

Yeah, because every time I drive into Detroit I tend to get shot at...

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:51 a.m.

You really think driving into Detroit is risking your life? Aww, big scary world out there, huh? :'(


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

I can't believe how many people in Washtenaw County love to vote for higher taxes to let organizations like the DIA and various government bodies waste the taxpayers money because they have no concept of managing costs or running a business efficiently. When you give them a pile of money, they will spend it with lots of waste. If the DIA was so critical to our culture, they should be able to generate their own funding through private donations or user fees. If you can't wait to give them your money, write them a check, don't make me do it.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Ann23, it's quite a bit of money, but I would disagree that it is "waste." The DIA is a nationally-recognized museum, not just a regional facility. The person in the job has arguably increased the value of the museum and its collections by many times his compensation. Even more significantly, at least to me, is the fact that he has kept the DIA free from the overwhelming corruption and negativity that infests the city of Detroit and surrounds the museum. I assume this has been no small task. The endowment has been maintained in extremely adverse conditions, the museum remains successful in acquiring world-class pieces and providing high-quality programs. I think the money is not wasted.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

YpsiVeteran, I'll start with the director's $351,137 salary.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

You obviously don't know what you're talking about, Ed. The DIA lost $16 million in operating revenue from the state several years ago and still managed to run the place, and slightly grow the endowment, through one of the worst financial climates in the country's history, by cutting costs and staff and other measures. Get a copy of the DIA's budget and identify any waste. I dare you.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Do your research. The DIA has successfully raised funds over the past years. The problem is, they had to use most of that private funding to cover operating costs because idiots like Engler and others believed money was better spent imprisoning people instead of educating them. That funding could have been used to build the DIA's endowment, like most other museums around the country have been doing since the '80s. Even the lame Cleveland Museum has a much larger endowment than the DIA. It was a 0.2 millage - let it go.

Jon Wax

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

compared to what we are going to end up paying if the EFM law gets voted down, this is nothing. but honestly, no, Washtenaw should not be voting on this. way too far away to be useful. the amount of folks from Washtenaw who would have actually gone to the DIA couldn't possibly have been high enough to spread the cost amongst the rest. but hey, if you want millages and increased taxes, really all you gotta do is wait about 6 more months. plenty coming down the pipe! Peace

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

"but honestly, no, Washtenaw should not be voting on this. way too far away to be useful. the amount of folks from Washtenaw who would have actually gone to the DIA couldn't possibly have been high enough to spread the cost amongst the rest." You would be surprised at how many people enjoy world class art and culture. It is just 35-40 minutes away. A lot of people often drive that far just to go shop for shoes, or to commute to work. It isn't all about you. Parents and grandparents who don't take their kids to the local museums are robbing those kids' futures. However, I do think the amount should be less for communities further away.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

I would vote against it in a heart beat.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Can we start with the usual suspects?

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

A limit on comments per day on news websites.

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:10 a.m.

What would you vote to support?

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:20 a.m.

The DIA is a world class art museum and should be kept open/alive. The art museum is one of the few reasons I've traveled to Detroit over the years with friends/family.....also made trips to Detroit for the live rock music scene. Farmer's market is also now a big draw.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

Why limit this to Washtenaw County? Let the whole State pay for this! Detroit has a wonderful track record of being good with spending other peoples money! Just look at the City Government, the Schools and now the DIA!

Ed Kimball

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

@xmo, until the Republicans repealed the Michigan Credit for Charitable Gifts at the end of last year, the whole state did pay for it. When I donated $100 to the DIA, the state gave me back $50 as a credit against my state income tax. I wouldn't be surprised if the loss of that credit is one of the reasons the DIA felt they needed another source of revenue.

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:10 a.m.

Yeah, xmo! Let's just let the DIA disappear along with the whole city of Detroit! That won't affect us all, right?

Tom Todd

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:49 a.m.

Detroits track record will cost all Municipal workers unfairly for years to come.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

The DIA isn't run by the government, unlike the City or DPS. In fact, the government - both state and local - is one of the reasons why the DIA does not have an endowment that is comparable to other museums around the country, including many whose works don't come close to the quality of the DIA's collection. In fact, one of the reasons I agreed to move to Ann Arbor was because the DIA was up the street. Michigan's population shrunk in the aughts per the last census, and I'm proud to be someone who took a chance and came here. Part of that had to do with the DIA.

Bryan Ellinger

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

One way to spot a BS story in under ten seconds: The headline ends with a question mark.

Bryan Ellinger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Yeah, okay. You're right about that.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

This really doesn't make sense when the headline is an "opinion" question.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Let's vote on a millage for Grand Rapids, and maybe Flint could use some money. This is important stuff and the amount is so miniscule. We're minisculed to death by taxes, hidden taxes, fee, assesments, hore hidden taxes. When does it end? Some people say just because you don't want to pay more in taxes you are a drain on society? You can write as big of a check as you would like, nobody is stopping you. We've got much bigger fish to fry than the DIA. Those are probably the same people who's charitable cotributions as a percentage of their income is lower than the so-called tea partyers.

Stan Hyne

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

I have many things that I consider good causes. I contribute to them. I choose the good causes to which I donate. I don't expect others to donate to my good causes. There are many good causes. I don't need another tax. If I could vote on wars I would not donate to them. It seems we have a tax tax here, a tax tax there, here a tax, there a tax, everywhere a tax tax.

Tom Todd

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

why does it cost so much to enter a park that you are a resident of?


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

Do you know who visits art museums like the DIA? "Art museums. Have generally older visitor bases, with 65% of respondents over age 50. Only 18% of respondents are parents of minor children, and those parents that did respond have significantly older children; over half are in middle or high school. Respondents have the highest college attainment of any type, with 86% having at least a college degree. Additionally, 55% have at least one parent with a college degree. Generally, respondents are less diverse than the overall sample, with 92% identifying as white, and only 16% identifying as a minority." In other words, predominantly older, white, educated and undoubtedly wealthier than average. It's outrageous that tax dollars are being used to subsidize the tastes of a relatively small, white, wealthy elite. And I say that as someone who is educated, white, well-off financially, and (not surprisingly) likes museums. But I don't think tax payers who are much poorer than me should be forced to subsidize my preferred leisure activities.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

mw, I am small, white, and relatively educated - but NOT wealthy. Guess I'll never make it to elite (sigh).

mike gatti

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

It is open to anyone. I am sure we are all taxed for or pay for things we don't use but it is still good they are there. It is part of what makes us humans. In a world where every day more and more people walk around like those zombies from the "night of the living dead" just scrapping and pulling the skin off of each other to survive it is nice to know the DIA is there.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

"preferred leisure activities"?? There's the problem. You (and no doubt many others) view institutions like the DIA as a leisure activity rather than a cultural and educational necessity. When the people you describe change their mindset, we will ALL be better off, and I can guarantee you more than just the older wealthier white folks will start going to these places. Unfortunately, you don't care. It's all just a leisurely diversion to you.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

Wow. I've been to the DIA several times thanks to the AAPS. Guess we should ignore the kids...

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

You could make the same arguments against park use. Or against funding schools. Or sidewalks. The people who don't visit great art museums are probably the people who most need the exposure to culture and art.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

No one HAD to vote for the millage. And now that admission will be free for the three counties, I hope many "newbies" will take advantage of that. I've been a member for donkey's years; I, too, would vote "in a heartbeat" for a millage in Washtenaw County.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I'm a member of the DIA and support it 110%. I would have gone to the polls specifically to vote Yes on this millage. But as it is, I'm just grateful that for the next 10 years, the DIA does have tax dollar support. But in the future, if they include Washtenaw county, I will not hesitate for a moment to vote Yes!

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:06 a.m.

You don't really understand the complexities of taxes in the United States, huh Mike?


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Big talker, write a really big check and bail them out if it's no big deal. There are people losing their houses and barely paying their bills and you want to raise their property taxes? This is crazy...............


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Things like the DIA, the Zoo and other cultural attractions should get together and sell passes that allow you to go to all of them, or memberships. One other thing, in Chicago things of this nature are clustered closer together, for instance the Field Musuem and the Shedd Aquarium. I think having these types of things in proximity to one another brings up the user numbers. In contrast, there is an Aquarium on Belle isle and an Art Museum in the New Center area.

Jeff Frank

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

Aquarium on Belle Isle is closed, and has been for several years. Chicago redesigned itself after the great fire and left much of the waterfront to the public so there were places to cluster some of the significant museums... we, on the other hand, got Woodward's grand design to lay streets out in a hub and spoke design that failed miserably, and was quickly abandoned, but left use with a commercial waterfront. As for the Chicago isn't dangerous statement... I call BS.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

It hard to compare to chicago. Detroit is dangerous. Chicago is not.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

I completely agree with your comment about the museum proximity in Chicago (don't walk to the Science & Industry Museum - it's 7 miles, or the Chicago History Museum or the architecture museum...). We should get a bunch of cultural institutions together in Midtown Detroit. We could have the DIA, the Detroit Symphony, the Wright Museum, the Science Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the main library branch all within a few blocks. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

I would have voted for this for sure. As it is, I will renew my membership as usual and hope that others in Washtenaw County will do the same even if they don't get down there too often. It is such an asset to the whole region that it is worth supporting.

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:02 a.m.

Well, Mike, I don't support the wars the government is currently funding. If I pay for things I support, like the DIA, can I demand that my tax dollars stop supporting those wars? We're getting tired of having your wars and other pet projects foisted upon us through income confiscation and redistribution.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Why just renew? Pay your fair share. If you like going then write a check for $10K and quit asking your neighbors for money. The people who enjoy going should all raise their hands, then divide the operating costs by the number of you and pay your fair share. We're getting tired of having your art museums and other pet projects foisted upon us through income confiscation and redistribution

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

If you want to pay for the DIA, send them a check. Why burden everyone else?

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 9:59 a.m.

You are exactly right, sh1. Too many people get angry about tax dollars going towards cultural development but they seem to have no problem paying to start unnecessary wars thousands of miles away. Let's invade Iraq and pretend Detroit doesn't exist, right? God bless America! Also, Woman in Ypsilanti, great point. The self-centered masses refuse to look past their own backyards.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

The DIA ran for years without a millage. And an art museum an hour away is hardly a necessity.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Because some things are good for society even if they don't directly benefit everyone. Why should I pay for the roads you drive on if I don't use them or pay for parks I don't use or schools I don't use? Because all of those things benefit our society as a whole. Just as the DIA does. It brings people to our area, it enriches people's lives, it helps educate people, etc. I could go on and on about the benefits of having the DIA but my larger point is that it would be kind of sad if we went to a system where people only pay for the things that directly benefit them and which they agree with.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

I feel the same way about funding unprovoked wars, such as the one in Iraq.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

I am reluctant to help any city or person that won't help themselves. But I do support this.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 9 p.m.

the DIA is one of the few things that keeps a major metropolitan neighbor of A2 from being a complete disaster zone... and anyone who is too cheap/ ( or ,less likely, poor) to pay the miniscule millage is already a likely drain on the system despite their often so- called "principalled " objections to it, which are mostly typical teaparty super- selfishness and lack of comprehension about what living in a 'society' ( as opposed to a survivalist bunker--- or hermit's cave!!) entails.

Top Cat

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

How come every time I turn around, some government entity is coming up with a new way to pick my pocket.

Ed Kimball

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

@MiddleAmerica: Then Top Cat would probably wind up on unemployment, welfare, and/or Medicaid and wind up picking everyone else's pocket.

Middle America

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:48 a.m.

You could always quit your job, stop paying taxes, and live off the land.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

Yup, it picks your pockets for things like schools for your kids and your neighbor's kids, so that they don't end up robbing you for drug money in 20 years. Those pickpockets bring you things like police protection, public transit, roads, safe food and water and air, educational and cultural diversity, and the rest of the elements of a civilized society that you don't get and can't get by buying them yourself piecemeal because they'd cost too darned much for an individual. Don't like it? You're hereby invited to move to a nice low-tax country like South Sudan, where I'm sure you and your money will be very happy.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

There's lots of pick pockets these days but this is one I would have gladly supported. Great place to spend an afternoon!


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

WWBD? (What Would Boulder Do)


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Get Outside.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

WC? (Who cares?)


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

i would have voted for this in a heartbeat, it's nice that voters were given the VOTE on the use of their tax dollars. Conversely - i still really hate the Percent for Art - and REALLY wish we had an opportunity to vote it down. The DIA is an institution i support. % for Art is simply disappointing.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

"The DIA is an institution i support." That's fine. I like the DIA too. Why don't we both support it without raising taxes on our neighbors who either don't or can't support it?