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The city of Detroit remains immersed in a time of massive change. Ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, an approaching mayoral election, and the possibility of an auction of Detroit Institute of Arts masterpieces are on people's minds.

Joining us today is Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press.

As part of our State of Opportunity project, Michigan Radio has partnered with the Detroit Free Press, The Center for Michigan, and WDET to host three community conversations with Detroit residents in three different locations in Detroit this Thursday. The goal is to talk with resident about what they see happening in the city and what would make Detroit a place where they feel they can build a future. 

If you’re a resident of Detroit and would like to participate in one of the community conversations this Thursday, October 24th at 6:00 pm you can a reserve spot at one of three Detroit locations. Stephen Henderson will be at the Northwest Activities Center, Craig Fahle with WDET will be at the Northeast Guidance Center, and Jennifer White be at El Nacimiento in Southwest Detroit. 

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This is not your five-year-old's animation.

Although you can certainly bring your five-year-old. They'll be right at home in the exhibits' dark halls lined with screen after screen after screen, like a little iPad addict's paradise.

"Watch Me Move" is, according to the Detroit Institute of  Arts, the  largest animation exhibition ever mounted.

And when you exit, you'll feel like it was both too short, and somehow way too vast to get a good grasp in just one visit.

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Bars could stay open until 4 am

“Legislation at the state Capitol would let downtown bars and restaurants sell alcohol until 4 am. Michigan’s liquor code generally bans alcohol sales between 2 am and 7 am,” Jake Neher reports.

Detroit EM talks DIA assets

“Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr says the Christie's auction house will finish an assessment of city-owned pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts this month, and he defends including their possible sale in the city's bankruptcy process,” the Associated Press reports.

State rejects private prison

“Michigan has rejected allowing a privately run, for-profit prison to house about a thousand inmates. The state turned down two bids because there was no savings for taxpayers,” Rick Pluta reports.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
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Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has sent out the strongest hint yet that prized pieces in the DIA collection are on the table as a way to put money into the city coffers.

Without offering many details, Orr told the Detroit Economic Club today that there are ways for the DIA to make money from its artwork that might not involve outright sales, but perhaps would involve long-term leases.

Orr was clear -- he said he must consider ways to use the museum's treasures to help the bankrupt city.

And, earlier this week, another one of the city's "jewels" was back in the spotlight.

The State and Mayor Dave Bing announced an agreement under which the State DNR would run Belle Isle as Michigan's 102nd State Park.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us to talk about all this.

Listen to the interview above.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
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Editor's Note: Corrected Abigail Esman's name from "Eisman" to the proper spelling, Esman. The proper pronunciation rhymes with "says man", not "ice man."

Right now, appraisers from New York Auction House Christie’s are sifting through some 3,500 pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

As part of the city’s bankruptcy case, the Emergency Manager is paying them to put a price on part of the collection.

Of course, that’s fueling even more fast-flying rumors about losing great works to private collectors, or getting massive loans for the city using Monets as collateral.

So here’s a quick field guide to what’s true, and what’s just talk.

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For every time Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr declares there are no plans to sell off DIA treasures to satisfy creditors, he also says, "all options are on the table."

Detroit Institute of Arts officials are leaving no stone unturned as they work to protect its collection from the storm of Detroit's bankruptcy.

We wondered, with the art world's attention focused on the DIA, how are other art museums in Michigan faring? And just how are they drawing in visitors in this digital age when most of us can look at priceless art images with just a few clicks of a mouse?

Joining us for this discussion is Bridge Magazine contributing writer Nancy Derringer, whose recent piece in Bridge has the hopeful headline: "Far from Bankrupt: Michigan art museums thrive despite economic woes."

Listen to the full interview above.

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PTSD and insomnia patients urge medial marijuana panel to allow use

"A state advisory board heard overwhelming testimony in favor of approving medical marijuana for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. The board is considering ailments not already included under Michigan’s voter-approved medical marijuana law," Jake Neher reports.

MSU pulls professor from classroom for anti-Republican rant

"A Michigan State University professor has been pulled from the classroom, after a conservative group posted a video online that showed him delivering an anti-Republican rant during a class," Steve Carmody reports.

Auction house comes to the DIA again

Detroit newspapers are reporting that Christie's Auction House visited the Detroit Institute of Art for the second time yesterday to appraise the museum's collection. Detroit's financial situation has raised concerns about whether the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection might be at risk of sale. However Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said he has "no plans to use art to relieve  the liquidity crisis that the city is in now."

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As we’ve seen, even the merest hint that portions of the DIA collection will be appraised by experts from Christie's has led to impassioned pleas from all around Michigan to keep the artwork out of the bankruptcy proceedings.

 Among the many voices raised in this state-wide conversation is that of long-time Detroit journalist Bill McGraw. His recent piece in Deadline Detroit says it all? "Six Things About Detroit That Are Worse Than The Idea of Selling Its Artwork." Bill McGraw joined us today.

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This week, the City of Detroit released the transcript of a deposition given by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr late last month as part of Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings.

 While being questioned about the value of the city's art collection and whether the artwork would be used to help solve Detroit's liquidity problem, Orr said, "no, there are no plans to use the art or any other asset in particular to liquidate it to relieve liquidity issues in the city. What I have said and continue to say, all options are on the table." Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been parsing what Kevyn Orr said during his deposition and has come up with another possible role that the DIA artwork might play in the bankruptcy drama. Listen to the interview above.

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It's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering over the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from the Oakland County.

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA now faces.

Listen to the full interview above.

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DETROIT (AP) - Officials with the international auction house Christie's want to meet with the Detroit Institute of Arts officials. Christie's has been hired to appraise pieces in the museum's collection as the city seeks bankruptcy protection.

   DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson tells The Associated Press Wednesday that the art institute is "in the process of scheduling a meeting with Christie's to determine how they want to handle this."

   The city purchased many of the pieces in the DIA collection years ago during more prosperous times, and art could be considered assets in a bankruptcy.

   State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr made the bankruptcy filing last month.

   DIA Director Graham Beal told The Detroit News that the museum would sue to block any potential sale of works from its collection, noting that such litigation could take years.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the meeting had been requested by the DIA. Michigan Radio regrets the error.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the upcoming hearings on Common Core, the suburban reaction to the possible sale of DIA art, and Flint's new Master Plan.

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Deadline set for the removal of pet coke

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has ordered the removal of all petroleum coke from the city's riverfront.  Detroit Bulk Storage must remove the material by Aug. 27.  The Associated Press reports that the storage company failed to move the pet coke by a previous deadline set by Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Jackson city employees face layoffs

Some Jackson employees may be laid off after a blow to the city's budget.  The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Jackson's storm water fee as an illegal tax.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "since 2011, the city collected more than two million dollars from the fee to pay for street cleaning and leaf pick up. But without the storm water fee revenues, Mayor Martin Griffin says the city will have to cancel those city services and lay off the city employees who performed them."

Oakland County leverages DIA millage

Oakland County is trying to protect its contributions to the Detroit Institute of Arts.  There is concern that the $23 million in annual millage money from several counties may fall into Detroit's creditor's hands rather than the DIA.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "Oakland County officials have threatened to revoke its portion of the millage if the DIA’s assets are diminished, or if any of that millage money ends up going to pay off the city’s debts."

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he’s prepared to defend the Detroit Institute of Arts collection in federal bankruptcy court. Schuette recently released an opinion that the artwork cannot be sold to satisfy the city’s creditors because it is held in a public trust.


Schuette spokesperson Joy Yearout says he’ll take that position in front of Judge Steven Rhodes if the city puts the collection on the table.

“If and when the issue of how the DIA’s charitable trusts are treated in bankruptcy comes up in court before Judge Rhodes, the attorney general will be prepared to defend the position that they should be protected,” Yearout said.

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Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr announced today that the city will start figuring out how much its assets are worth.

This comes as the bankrupt city is wrangling with creditors about how much of Detroit’s $11.5 billion unsecured debt will actually be repaid.

Orr also says he’s hiring Christie’s auction house to appraise the city-owned portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection.

It’s tough news to those still holding out hope that the museum will emerge unscathed from the bankruptcy process.

Detroit’s bankruptcy filing has triggered waves of speculation about what the future holds for the city. In recent months questions have circled around the Detroit Institute of Arts. The debate is whether the institution's art collection could be used to help Detroit balance its budget. But a recent opinion piece in the New York Times written by Director of the DIA, Graham Beal, cautioned against speculation about the museum’s future. 

Here's a quote from the article:

I call upon  journalists to resist the temptation to jump to disaster scenarios or to make the D.I.A.’s singular and highly complicated situation part of a broader story about the structural challenges faced by museums in general.

Listen to the full interview above.

Photo courtesy of the DIA

Kevyn Orr is Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager. And he has some pretty extraordinary powers to chart the course of Detroit’s potential bankruptcy—and its future.

Last Friday, Orr took questions from reporters. The very first question he faced was pretty much, ”What’s for sale?”

“Right now there’s nothing for sale, including Howdy Doody.”

Orr was actually referring to the Detroit Institute of Arts, whose collection includes the original puppet from the 1950s children’s TV show. Though no one knows for sure, the DIA’s total assets — which include masterpieces by Van Gogh and Picasso — could be worth about $2.5 billion.

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The Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts will now get millions of dollars in tax revenues as promised from the metro region.

Several metro cities were capturing some of the revenue generated by multi-county millages voters approved to support the zoo and the museum.

The cities claimed they were allowed to by state law. A Wayne County Circuit Court decision supported that claim.

Annmarie Erickson is the Chief Operating Officer of the art museum. She credits the public’s outcry for the new legislation signed into law today. 

Detroit Institute of Arts
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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has released a legal opinion that says the collection held by the Detroit Institute of Arts cannot be sold if the city goes into bankruptcy.

The opinion was issued in response to a request by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

The opinion says the assets owned by the Detroit Institute of Art are held in a public trust for the people of Michigan, and cannot be used to pay off the city's debts. Schuette says in the opinion, "In Michigan, we not only appreciate our cultural treasures, we guard them zealously."

Detroit has $15.6 billion dollars in long-term liabilities, and emergency manager Kevyn Orr will need to take some drastic measures to pay those debts.

Kevyn Orr -- who is a bankruptcy attorney and turnaround expert -- is in the middle of negotiating a debt reduction plan with the city's creditors. He has said there are no guarantees the DIA's assets would be off the table in the event of a bankruptcy.

The Diego Rivera mural at the DIA. The museum had a good week after their millage passed in three counties.
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In a recent piece in Bloomberg, Virginia Postrel (a political and cultural writer) argues that the "cause of art would be better served" if the DIA's major works were in other, 'more deserving' cities.

Her argument:

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The Detroit News' Christine Ferretti writes this morning that other Detroit cultural institutions are on high alert after the news came that assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts are being counted as potential assets of the city that can be sold to pay off debts.

Before I went on vacation two weeks ago, I thought I could no longer be shocked by anything that might happen in Detroit.

Earlier this spring, the state took over the control of the city, after decades of decline, neglect, crime and financial mismanagement. Nevertheless, I was stunned to come home to the news that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr might consider selling off the priceless collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay down the city’s massive long-term unfunded liabilities.

Many people didn’t realize the city owned the museum and its collection, which has been run and financed by the private Founders’ Society for years. But technically the city does.

DIA

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, wants to account for assets held in the Detroit Institute of Arts, which has sparked fears that part of the collection could be sold in the future.

We've posted information here, and Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will have an update for us later today.

Update 11:34 a.m.

The DIA just put out this statement on their Facebook page:

"The DIA strongly believes that the museum and the City hold the museum’s art collection in trust for the public. The DIA manages and cares for that collection according to exacting standards required by the public trust, our profession and the Operating Agreement with the City. According to those standards, the City cannot sell art to generate funds for any purpose other than to enhance the collection. We remain confident that the City and the emergency financial manager will continue to support the museum in its compliance with those standards, and together we will continue to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Detroit."

9:19 a.m.

Detroit is in a big financial hole, and the man in charge of righting the ship wants to know what can be sold.

Mark Stryker and John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press report that Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is considering whether the DIA's art collection should be counted as assets that can be sold to pay debts:

Liquidating DIA art to pay down debt likely would be a monstrously complicated, controversial and contentious process never before tested on such as large scale and with no certain outcome. The DIA is unusual among major civic museums in that the city retains ownership of the building and collection while daily operations, including fund-raising, are overseen by a nonprofit institution.

Stryker and Gallagher report on the many hurdles facing such a sale, including ...

  • restrictions on selling off city assets in municipal bankruptcy law,
  • museum ethics and operating rules that forbid selling art,
  • opposition from patrons who donated art,
  • and major a public outcry against such a sale:

“There would be hue and cry the likes of which you’ve never heard,” said Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, D.C. “The museum should be a rallying point for the rebirth of Detroit and not a source of funds.”

Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said there's no plan yet to sell any asset of the city, but he said all the city's assets must be accounted for.

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Detroit looking to sell art from the DIA?

Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is considering whether the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be counted as a city asset. If so, it could be sold to help cover the city's $15 billion debt.

The DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson has hired a bankruptcy attorney to help advise how to protect the collection. However, as The Detroit Free Press reports, liquidating the art to help pay the debt would be incredibly complicated and controversial.

Hamtramck faces financial turmoil

According to a state-appointed review team, the City of Hamtramck faces a financial emergency.

The results of the investigation were released on Thursday. Six years ago, Hamtramck emerged from state oversight. Now its more than $3 million in debt. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports, if Governor Rick Snyder agrees with what the review team found, city leaders could opt for an emergency manager.

Pre-prom shooting in Saginaw

A 17-year old female died as a result of a shooting at a Saginaw High School pre-prom party.

Three other women were also injured during the shooting and are receiving treatment. According to an MLive report by Jessica Fleischman, the incident occurred in the parking lot of the Florence Event Hall. Officials have not revealed whether the 17-year old was a Saginaw student or if suspects have been identified.

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DETROIT (AP) - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by five Macomb County residents against the Detroit Institute of Arts over admission fees to a special exhibition.

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge John C. Foster ruled Wednesday the residents didn't have standing to sue and said the cultural institution didn't violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The residents who sued say they're considering more legal options.

Wikipedia.org

It was 80 years ago this week that the Detroit Institute of Arts debuted the series of frescoes by Diego Rivera titled "The Detroit Industry Murals."

The 27 panels depict workers and industry in Detroit and Michigan's innovative technology. The murals, and Diego Rivera are renowned around the world.

80 years ago was a stormy time in Detroit history. It was a troubled time for workers, and the country was in the depths of the Depression.

A demonstration by unemployed workers led to five protesters being shot to death by Dearborn Police and Ford security guards - "The Ford Massacre" occurred on March 7th, 1932.

The unveiling of the murals at the DIA sparked a huge controversy. The Detroit News called for the walls of the court to be whitewashed.

The DIA weathered the storm and eventually "Detroit Industry" not only became "accepted," but hailed around the world as a masterpiece.

Unions and labor are in the headlines today, especially with Michigan becoming a right-to-work state this Thursday.

What would Diego Rivera say about the current state of labor and industry in Michigan right now?

Graham Beale is the President of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Graham takes us back to the very beginning, when Diego Rivera was brought to Detroit to create these murals. He talks about the uproar that occurred after the unveiling of the murals and what they mean to us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Woodward Spine

The Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts are supposed to get a cut of taxes collected from the greater metro region.

But dozens of cities and townships have been holding out, thanks to tax loopholes.

Republican Representative Eileen Kowall says the people of Metro Detroit voted to send these taxes to the zoo and the DIA.

Detroit Institute of Arts

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Institute of Arts will display a famous Vincent van Gogh work later this month.

"Bedroom in Arles" is on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. It'll be on view at the DIA from Feb. 19 to May 28.

The painting will be installed along with three other van Gogh paintings owned by the Detroit museum.

Van Gogh produced three almost identical paintings on the theme of his bedroom. The first, in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, was created in 1888 but damaged in a flood while the artist was in a hospital in Arles, France.

The Diego Rivera mural at the DIA. The museum had a good week after their millage passed in three counties.
DIA

Last Tuesday, the Detroit Institute of Arts got a major vote of confidence from area voters when they approved a millage request to fund the museum. Taxpayer support means the museum will have a stable source of funding for the next ten years.

The next day, the museum was free to the residents in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

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Bolger and Schmidt answer to complaints about breaking campaign finance laws

State House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt have a little less than three weeks to answer complaints they broke campaign finance laws. A complaint by the Kent County prosecutor filed with the Secretary of State names just Schmidt. One filed by Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer names both of them. The two plotted to keep a serious Democratic challenger off the ballot after Schmidt jumped from the Democrats to the Republicans. House Republican spokesman Ari Adler says no laws were broken, but the speaker will back legislation to stop what they tried to do from happening in the future.  The Secretary of State sent letters last week to Bolger and Schmidt informing them there is an official inquiry underway.

Biden in Detroit

Vice President Joe Biden has been out on the campaign trail. He rallied teachers in Detroit Sunday. That’s where the American Federation of Teachers is holding its annual convention. "Biden went after Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress for budget plans that would slash federal education spending. He said Republicans have consistently opposed proposals to keep teachers and other public employees on the job through the economic downturn," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Detroit Institute of Arts vote

Voters in three counties will soon decide the fate of a tax millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts. Museum officials say the DIA could shut down if a 10 year property tax doesn't pass. Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties will decide August 7th. The museum no longer receives state funding. But Critics say the DIA's campaign exaggerates the museum's financial struggles. The property tax would bring in roughly 230 million dollars over 10 years. Residents in counties that approve it will get free admission to the museum.

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