Detroit Institute of Arts, should the art be sold? -

Detroit Institute of Arts, should the art be sold?

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Opinion by Mike Renda
General Manager, WJBK Fox 2

Detroit's bankruptcy filing has set off a strong set of emotions, but perhaps the most intense reaction to this dire situation comes from the  possibility of selling off the art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

On one side: The argument that because the DIA is a crown jewel of the city. Its art collection must remain in the public trust. and therefore is off limits to claims in federal bankruptcy

On the other side: The needs of the common man.  We should consider selling the art before we cut worker's pensions or continue to under fund the basic safety services, vital to residents in Detroit.

Here's what I think:

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr must include the DIA in his overall analysis of  the city's assets.

But to sell the art could potentially flood the art market and ultimately reduce the true value of the art.

It would also deprive the city of potential tourist dollars, so selling the art  would be against the long term interest of the city

So what should we do here?

I advocate an approach that other financially challenged museums have adopted identified as the "partial interest plan."

It involves holding joint custody of the paintings and sculptures with another museum.

A recent example was Fisk University Museum in Tennessee, selling a 50-percent stake to "Crystal Bridges," the private museum founded by Alice Walton of Walmart.

So instead of saturating the art market the city could get more money by limiting the nature of the sale and would  result in the city netting millions of dollars for selling just "half" of the rights.  The most valuable works can then spend half of their time in each museum.

The millions in revenue from this plan allow the DIA to keep it's art, but also provides the means to take a large chunk out of the city's debt.

We must  be open to looking at all options when it comes to this extremely difficult  situation.

That's what I think, but I  want to hear from you.  Please add your thoughts below.

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