DETROIT (WWJ) – Although the New Year brings promise to a struggling city like Detroit, some of the city’s high-profile cultural sites could be in jeopardy.

WWJ’s Kathryn Larson spoke with City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, who said the city can no longer afford to subsidize the Detroit Zoo, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Everyone knows the situation that our finances are in and it’s a crisis. So, we have to act like that and prioritize the dollars that we do have,” said Brown.

Even if the city can’t fund the institutions, Brown say they will continue paying insurance on the centers.

“We understand our obligation with regards to insurance and some other things and we intend to live up to that obligation, but at the same time we have to prioritize dollars and until we get the ship righted, we’re not going to be able to continue the funding level that we have in the past,” he said.

Brown said without the city’s aid, he hopes private donations will continue to keep these institutions thriving.

The State of Michigan has been pouring over the city’s financial situation and found “probable” distress exists. The Department of Treasury is now performing a formal review of Detroit’s finances while the city continues to work on a financial plan to keep from running out of cash in April.

Read more, here.

Comments (3)
  1. A Michigan Resident says:

    No surprise here with a busted Detroit. This is what happens when the money movers and shakers leave the city. It is difficult to believe the DIA and the Zoo are facing problems.

    But I heard Tom Gores make mention of helping the area. Maybe he can cough up some generosity for the city. It would certainly tell Detroit what kind of rich he is.

  2. Christopher says:

    Actually this is what happens when any government of any size subsides anything. Institutions such as mentioned should be able to stand on their own if they are truly worthy of the public’s attention and dollars.

  3. Kathleen says:

    The DIA lost state funding years ago and gets very, very little from the City of Detroit, which owns the building, grounds and collection. There have been many staff and cost reductions as well as budget cuts, like all businesses have gone through these days. Private support for all cultural institutions is down because everyone, even the wealthy, have been hit financially. It’s always interesting to me when people say these types of institutions should “stand on their own if they are truly worthy of the public’s attention and dollars.” So, being in the same financial straits as everyone else makes them worthless? Non profits like the DIA bring a great deal to Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. Besides drawing tourism, they enhance the quality of life and are key in attracting new businesses to the area. The business around these cultural sites also benefit – restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, schools, you name it. Cultural institutions employ thousands of people and enable employment at surrounding businesses. Non profit arts organizations supplement arts education for children, especially valuable at a time when music and arts are being cut from the curriculum of most schools, as a cost saving measure (because, apparently, these subjects are so ’worthless.’) No one, even those people who don’t usually visit cultural institutions, wants to live in cities with no museums, libraries, parks, science centers, galleries, symphonies, etc. And cultural institutions and places like the zoo contribute to property values, so they benefit a wide swathe of the citizenry. What’s left when you take these types of institutions away? Strip malls, gas stations, casinos and sports stadiums. I guess those places must be more worthy of surviving since they’re self supporting.

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