The Detroit Free Press reported that the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has named Salvador Salort-Pons director, president, and CEO, effective October 15. Salort-Pons currently serves as the DIA’s executive director of collection strategies and information. The announcement comes three months after former director Graham Beal concluded his 16-year tenure on June 30.
Salort-Pons holds a master’s degree in geography and history, an M.B.A. in finance, and a Ph.D. in art history from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Southern Methodist University, and the Royal Spanish College at the University of Bologna.
In a statement, DIA chair Gene Gargaro said of Salort-Pons, “scholarship, extensive knowledge of the DIA, his international experience and his management skills make him the ideal choice to lead the DIA in the coming years.”
The Free Press quoted an unsurprised Jeffrey Abt, a professor of art history at Wayne State University and the author of a history of the DIA, as saying, “[Salort-Pons] has a reputation of being very personal; he’s very popular and well-liked by lay people who are close to the museum.” Salort-Pons himself told the newspaper, “I look forward to being as present as possible in the community. I’ve been here for almost eight years, so I know many of the patrons and supporters of the DIA, and I’d like to be closer and in touch with the three counties.”
The three counties are Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb, which have in the past voted to supply approximately $22 million to the DIA per year. Recently, however, elected representatives are lobbying to cut funding when the millage expires in 2022 due to dissatisfaction with the DIA’s use of the money.
The DIA was substantially impacted during Detroit’s bankruptcy case, during which attempts were made to sell its art collection. To prevent this, the DIA agreed to pay $100 million to the city, thereby using up the counties’ endowment and leaving the institution with a debt of $13 million to the city of Detroit. The Free Press notes that the DIA will additionally need to raise about $350 million for annual operations and endowment in the next few years.
Salort-Pons told the newspaper, “I think fund-raising is the number one priority for this museum. I would like to achieve permanent financial stability for DIA.”