News Story

Top DIA Officials Receive Huge Raises While Running Deficit, Raking in Taxpayer Money

Detroit Institute of Arts director sees compensation increase from $455K to $514K

Soon after voters approved a three-county $230 million millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts, its top two officers received increases of $58,415 and $98,564 in compensation.

Graham Beal, director of the DIA, saw his total compensation increase from $455,453 in 2012 to $513,868 in 2013, a 12.8 percent increase. In two years, Beal’s total compensation has increased 20 percent from $426,699 in 2011 to the $513,868.

Annmarie Erickson, executive vice president of the DIA, saw her total compensation jump 36.3 percent as it increased from $270,802 in 2012 to $369,366 in 2013. Erickson was recently given an additional title of Chief Operating Officer, according to the DIA website.

The salaries are reported on the DIA’s 990 Form. The most recent 2013 990 Form from the DIA was recently released by Guidestar.

The increases came despite what is described on the DIA website as a "structural operating deficit."

In 2012, voters in Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties approved a 10-year, $230 million millage for the DIA.

“They’ve managed to put the interests of the art patron above the interests of everybody else in the state of Michigan and enrich themselves while doing it,” said Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, who opposed the DIA millage. “That’s quite a feat. … They were able to put a very narrow interest ahead of the public interest so effectively, they should be in Congress.”

When the city of Detroit went through bankruptcy, there was some discussion about what could happen to the DIA’s art collection. The museum ended up being helped by state taxpayers and local foundations. Throughout the process, the DIA was clear none of its art should be sold.

“The sale or encumbrance of even one piece of art to pay Detroit’s debts would have a catastrophic effect on the museum, the city and region,” the DIA website stated.

DIA spokeswoman Pamela Marcil said Beal's compensation is determined by a compensation committee of the DIA board of directors and that Erickson's compensation is recommended by Beal but also approved by the committee. Marcil also said Erickson's increase was due to her being promoted to chief operating officer.

(Editor's note: This story was updated with the DIA's response after it was originally published.)

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.