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Detroit Institute of Arts millage renewal will be on March 2020 ballot

For the first time in 15 years, the Detroit Institute of Arts has a staff of three in its contemporary art department.
Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts millage renewal is slated to appear on the March 10, 2020 ballot in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

Voters in each county will decide whether to renew the 0.2 millage that helps fund the DIA. That's 20 cents per $1,000 of taxable value.

The ten-year millage was first passed in 2012. If voters approve the millage renewal in March, it will continue through 2031.

According to  Salvador Salort-Pons, director of the DIA, the millage has paid for free admission to the museum for all tri-county residents and has also made possible annual free field trips, programming, and transportation to the museum for particular groups from the three counties. 

"Before the millage, it was around 20,000 students. Now it's 75,000," said Salort-Pons in an interview on Stateside. "We do the same with the seniors, with the veterans, with many others."

The millage has also made possible free professional develpoment to more than 1,500 teachers every year.

"In a world in which arts education is being eliminated from schools, the museum has become the number one provider of arts education in the tri-counties." Salort-Pons said, adding that the millage renewal will allow the DIA to continue this work.

Salort-Pons said the DIA and its culture has been transformed by the millage.

"We're going beyond the walls of the museum," said Salort-Pons.

"Each county places the millage on the ballot independently of the other counties," said DIA spokesperson Christine Kloostra in an email. "It is our understanding that only Macomb County has a requirement that it be approved by voters in all three counties to take effect in Macomb County."

Depending on tax revenue in a given year, the millage currently generates about $25 million annually, according to  Kloostra. 

Kloostra said the millage has generated approximately $166.2 million total since its inception.

Oakland County authorities on Thursday completed the final steps for putting the millage renewal question to its voters in March. The Macomb County Art Institute Authority voted last week to put the millage renewal on the March ballot, and the Wayne County Art Institute Authority did so in November. 

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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