Marilyn Salenger: ‘White flight’ and Detroit’s decline. By Marilyn Salenger By Marilyn Salenger July 21, 2013 Marilyn Salenger is president of Strategic Communications Services and a former correspondent and news anchor for several CBS stations.
An almost palpable sadness has swept across the country at the news that the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. While the possibility of this had been discussed, the reality of what was once the fourth-largest city in the United States sinking to such depths is disheartening, a moment people will remember for years to come. To understand that the decline and bankruptcy represent so much more than dollars and cents requires a step back to a time that many would prefer to forget but remains unforgettable. In the late 1960s,racial tensions engulfed parts of our country, at the cost of lost lives and abject destruction. It was the beginning of the ending we are now seeing for a city that once stood tall with head held high. Opinions Orlando Shooting Updates post_newsletter348 follow-orlando true after3th. Detroit bankruptcy renews fears that the city may sell masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts.
View full sizeThe Detroit Institute of Arts has been financially embattled for decades.
The city's bankruptcy on Thursday poses a new threat, according to numerous reports.Thomas Ondrey, Plain Dealer file. Detroit Institute director: Selling art tantamount to closing museum - latimes. Detroit's creditors want entire art museum collection to be fair game - LA Times. Creditors in Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy have engineered a new appraisal aimed at putting the Detroit Institute of Arts' entire collection in play as a possible chip to maximize the amount the city will be obligated to ante up for debt repayment.
The Detroit News reports that, at some creditors’ behest, the city’s bankruptcy managers have begun trying to place a value on the museum’s entire 66,000-piece collection. That’s quite an escalation from a previous appraisal of only about 1,700 works that the DIA had bought with city funds. The idea behind the more limited appraisal was that there would be fewer legal barriers to selling off art that was bought with public money. The city likely would have to jump through considerably more complicated hoops to sell works donated by private collectors, or bought with donors’ money.
Should Detroit Sell Its Art? The fiscal apocalypse that is Detroit has spun off a collateral storm in the art world with a suggestion that salvific funds—an estimate of two billion dollars is much bandied—could be raised by selling treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of America’s best encyclopedic museums.
Having been asked my opinion as an art-lover—and, incidentally, a citizen, though not of Detroit—I have two answers. Here’s the short one: sell. The long one, which follows, ends in the same place, only garlanded with regrets. What is the worth of a municipal museum? Nora Caplan-Bricker, writing in The New Republic, gauged it this way in June: “Every person should have the chance, not just to see art, but to live down the street from it.” Detroit's Art Sale Scare Reveals Better Options For Bankrupt City. When the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy last week, the iconic Detroit Institute of Arts was among the civic institutions whose fate came into jeopardy.
Art world insiders feared that masterpieces by such greats as Picasso and Warhol could be raffled off in a fire sale, depriving Motown of a cultural legacy in a short-sighted drive for cash. Others pointed out that the pensions of Detroit’s aging retirees could be saved for the price of a few canvasses. Should Detroit sell its art?: Motown steps on Degas. ONE of the masterpieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is James Whistler’s “Nocturne in Black and Gold”.
Ominous dark shadows are punctuated with the light of fireworks falling to Earth. It is an “urban, ephemeral, indescribable spectacle”, says the blurb. It is “a pot of paint [flung] in the public’s face”, harrumphed John Ruskin, a Victorian critic. Should Detroit sell its art collection? Pamela Marcil, a spokeswoman for the Institute, said a team from Christie's auction house visited the museum in May, though their purpose remains unclear.
While Christie's requested to send a larger team in June, it's unclear whether the second group ever visited the Institute, the spokeswoman said. Christie's declined comment. Cookies are Not Accepted - New York Times. Sell Detroit's Art, Save Detroit's People. A new appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Art's collection values the works at up to $4.6 billion (though an actual sale would probably bring in slightly less than $1 billion).
Would selling some of these works mean rejecting art? Not at all. It would mean embracing humanity. As always, the reality of this situation is more complicated than any little theoretical formulations—for example, hundreds of millions of dollars pledged to help the city's pension funds are contingent on leaving the art in the museum. But let's take a step back and look again at the larger issues here, because there is, at the base of all this, an ethical argument that can be applied to all of the bankrupt cities of the future, and to poor cities everywhere. So: Detroit is bankrupt.
Detroit is shutting off water to its own citizens.