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DIA Millage Provides Decade-Long Security, Free Admission

DETROIT (WWJ) - With the passing of a 10-year Detroit Institute of Arts millage in Tuesday's primary election, residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will get in free with I.D.

As supporters celebrated at the DIA on Wednesday, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said the vote means a lot to the city and surrounding area.

DIA painting
Spectators view the Johannes Vermeer painting "Woman Holding a Balance." The painting is on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It will be on view until September 2, 2012. (WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

"I think this is the big story of the election and the Detroit region," Bernero said. "The fact that you have regional support for a facility like the Detroit Institute of Arts is huge. This is the kind of regionalism that I believe is needed to bring in a new momentum in Detroit, to bring in a new age in Detroit."

Gene Gargaro, chairman of the Board of Directors of the DIA, says they're looking at making other changes including the hours the DIA will be open.

"We're going to have expanded hours of operation and our director and other staff members are looking at an extra day during the week," Gargaro said.

Bloomfield Hills resident Susan McDonald, who voted in favor of the millage, said the DIA is an integral part of the city that must be kept around.

"Art is important, culture is important," McDonald said. "If we lose that, Detroit goes down the tubes. We gotta keep that kind of thing here, otherwise we can't be a great city."

The millage will give the DIA $23 million in operational revenue annually to keep its doors open for the next decade. The museum will get a decade to focus fundraising efforts on building its endowment, with the long-term goal of becoming financially independent.

The museum was funded by the city of Detroit until the 1970s, when state support replaced local funding. That backing has since disappeared. In 2009, the museum cut its budget from $34 million to about $25 million and shed nearly 20 percent of its employees.

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