Charles H. Wright Museum Looks to Property Taxes to Boost Budget

The Charles H. Wright Museum recently asked the state legislature for permission to ask voters to help fund the institution.

The proposal that’s before the law-making body is for a 0.4 mills of property taxes from the electorate in Wayne and Oakland counties, which translates to $60 per homeowner. If the state legislature and, ultimately, the voters approve the plan, the Wright Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum split the revenue for their operating expenses. The Wright Museum would receive $24 million a year; the Detroit Historical Museum would get $16 million per year.

The Wright Museum could use the funding to finally do major maintenance projects, including ongoing repairs from two floods in 2021. As is, it’s putting off about $30 million in repairs.

The funding will give the museum the money to bolster its exhibits and other programming, too—a necessary form of education to counter the anti-critical-race-theory rhetoric and laws. The monies will also give the museum an endowment that will allow it to operate, which will allow it to use its philanthropic dollars as a cushion for the endowment instead of those dollars being the main way the museum keeps its doors open.

The Wright Museum is a treasured institution. Outside of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, it is the most renowned institution about Black American culture. Rosa Parks’, Aretha Franklin’s and Judge Damon Keith’s funerals were held there. But the money that it receives to operate isn’t consistent, and that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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