It’s curious that the Detroit Free Press phrases this possible grand bargain over Detroit’s art in terms of DIA’s participation. It is also telling that the deal comes shortly after Judge Rhodes ruled the bankruptcy could go through. In other words, a deal to save the art from inclusion in the city’s assets has been brewing for some time and now emerges once the bankruptcy can proceed. That is a reminder to the shrieking and fretting arts writers who framed the issue as a moral cause when it was a political fight between various Detroit-area constituencies. Art cannot be removed from human society, nor should it be:
The Detroit Institute of Arts embraced publicly, for the first time, the broad outline of a federally mediated deal that would protect its art from sale and spin off the museum from city ownership into an independent nonprofit. The deal would raise roughly $500 million from a consortium of national and local charitable foundations and funnel the money into retiree pensions on behalf of the value of the art at the DIA.
There’s still no guarantee that all of the parties — including labor groups representing about 23,500 pensioners and foundations of different size and interests — will be able to work through the layered complexities of hammering out a deal. But the DIA’s enthusiastic support is seen as a pivotal move in the march toward toward a possible compromise.
The museum also indicated that it was open to contributing financially to the plan.
Update: An astute reader pointed us to this Dec. 5 Detroit Free Press story:
Since early last month, Rosen has met with at least 10 local and national foundations to ask them to create the new $500-million fund. A Rosen-mediated deal also would free up money in the bankruptcy case to satisfy other creditors and go toward restoring some of the city services that hard-hit Detroit residents sorely lack.
“Bankruptcy is designed to be a carrot and stick,” the source told the Free Press. “It encourages parties to negotiate issues and solve them or the court will find a solution. I think that’s why Judge Rosen sees the opportunity here to really provide the opportunity for every party to come to the table and reach a solution before one is determined by the court that is outside their control.”