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November 23, 2015

Post-'Grand Bargain,' Detroit Museum Tackles New Challenges

The Detroit Free Press looks at the state of the Detroit Institute of Arts one year after the city emerged from bankruptcy via an agreement in which the museum was a linchpin.

The so-called "grand bargain," funded in part with $100 million from the institute and $366 million from national and local foundations, grew out of efforts to shield the art museum's collection from being sold to satisfy Detroit creditors. The formerly city-owned institution is now run by an independent nonprofit and has stepped up statewide programming in exchange for Michigan officials pledging $350 million to the grand bargain.

Another effect has been to heighten the museum's challenge in raising at least $170 million in new dollars to boost its endowment to $400 million and guarantee long-term financial stability after the 2022 expiration of a regional tax increase that suburban voters approved three years ago to support the institute.

Board Chairman Gene Gargaro acknowledged the museum may have difficulty coaxing contributors who have already ponied up for the grand bargain to do so again for the endowment campaign. But he said the museum's key role in resolving the bankruptcy crisis, and its newly independent status, helped create "an impactful message to take to prospective donors."