“Politicians don’t bring people together. Artists do.” Richard Daley, Former Mayor of Chicago (from PerformingArtsConvention.org)
When news of the financial demise of the city of Detroit began leaking out, the fate of the magnificent collection of the Detroit Institute of Art came into question. Many were hoping for a knight in shining armor atop a mighty steed to come galloping to the rescue to save this wonderful collection. When there is no money left for basic services, there is definitely no money for art.
The New York Times reports that the court has approved the official bankruptcy proceedings but so far nothing specifically was ruled on the fate of the D.I.A.’s art. Randy Kennedy, reporting for the Times, discusses the response by Judge Steven Rhodes. “A one time infusion of cash by selling an asset,” he (Rhodes) said, would have only delayed, “the inevitable financial failure” unless it could also have come up with a sustainable way to enhance income and reduce expenses, reports Kennedy. In other words, any money from the sale of the art will only throw more feed in the trough to quickly be gobbled up like everything else in the city’s coffers. Somehow, someone will have to say enough is enough and hold those accountable who created this mess. Until that happens, any infusion of cash by the sale of the art will just be flushed away with the rest of the city’s assets.
Sadly, this wonderful collection could be broken up and sold to collectors all over the world. Should that be the final outcome, hopefully, the sale can be justified and utilized in a beneficial manner and not treated as more slop for the trough. The collection is estimated, so far, to be worth between one and two billion dollars. If the collection is broken up and sold off, most if not all may disappear forever into private collections never to be seen by the public again.
The politicians have created the mess in Detroit. Possibly, art could save Detroit. There is still time for a knight in shining armor to come riding to the rescue of the Detroit Institute of Art, but so far no hoofbeats have been heard. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely that any will be. It may be too late for the art or the city to be saved.
*Photograph shown is from The New York Times and taken by Joshua Lott for Reuters