I couldn’t start this December newsletter without paying tribute to our friend, Detroit champion, and DIA Board member, Joe Hudson, who very sadly passed away last week. Few people have done as much for the city and for the DIA in recent history as Joe. He stands as one of those civic leaders who generously dedicated his life to the community and the well-being of all. I met Joe and his wife, Jean, when I was a DIA assistant curator and the world was going through the financial crisis of 2008-09. The museum was in great need for funding, and we proposed to Jean, who I had heard had an interest in gardening, to create an event called The Language of Flowers in their backyard. During it, I would invite the guests to walk with me in the exploration of the garden’s flowers and stop at each one to share their meaning in history and their connection to the arts. With a smile on their faces the Hudsons agreed to it. The fundraising event not only was a success but also gave me an opportunity to meet so many new people and I, of course, learned a lot about flowers. Since that time Joe and Jean have treated my family and me as friends, and today when I see a flower or smell its fragrance, I immediately think of them.
The happy memories of our dear friend, Joe Hudson, will help brighten the tough year through which we have all lived. Looking back over 2020, it is hard to describe the emotions that we have all felt in Detroit, nationally, and internationally. As the pandemic has advanced, sharply highlighting the inequalities of our society, we have changed the way we used to live. Navigating these uncharted waters has been and continues to be extremely difficult and the museum’s priority has been to protect our staff and their families. Many museums and arts organizations across the country were forced to lay off and furlough hundreds of employees, but at the DIA we were able to find a solution to keep everyone on board, as we continue to push through this storm. I am grateful to the team for their creativity, flexibility, and patience during these times of hardship. And I would like to encourage everyone to continue to keep their guard up against the virus as we enter the holiday season. While the vaccine will begin distribution soon, we still have very complicated months ahead of us.
On the bright side, I will and I hope you will too, remember 2020 as the year that the DIA passed its second millage and received the highest peak of support ever recorded from our community. We achieved a new level of financial sustainability, and our relevance is tangible throughout the region more than ever. These two elements, financial sustainability and relevance, will be the bedrock from which will be build our new DIA moving forward. I am thankful for the support I have received from the board, the staff, our membership, and the community at large. It has been the hardest year of my tenure as DIA Director, and has taught me very valuable lessons. With the sun soon rising on 2021, I will take these new experiences and use them with your help to transform our museum into the best place it will ever be, within and beyond its walls. In the meantime, enjoy a peaceful holiday season.