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Toyota donation helps shield Detroit museum's art

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By Nora Naughton, Crain News Service

DETROIT (Aug. 7, 2014) — Motown’s artwork is  a bit closer to being safe, at least for the time being.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s North American arm is pledging $1 million toward the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) goal to raise $100 million and help prevent the sale of the museum’s collections during Detroit’s bankruptcy case and assist city pensioners.

The donation—part of a so-called “grand bargain”—is meant to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy and protect the museum’s collection.

“Detroit and the surrounding areas are vitally important to the automotive community. They deserve our support,” Simon Nagata, president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, said in a statement Aug. 6. “Together we can find solutions to help Detroit become the healthy and vibrant community that reflects the spirit of its people. This commitment is a way to demonstrate our gratitude to the people who have built this industry and support us every day.”

The goal of Detroit’s grand bargain is to ease cuts to the city’s pensioners by providing them more than $800 million from the DIA, local and national foundations and the State of Michigan over 20 years, while also shielding the DIA’s collection from the possibility of a sale.

The museum and its art—valued as high as nearly $5 billion—are owned by the city. Some creditors are pressing for Detroit to sell the art to help settle its debt.

“Toyota has demonstrated its commitment to Detroit and Michigan by doing its part to secure the DIA’s future while helping Detroit’s retirees,” Eugene Gargaro, DIA board chairman, said in a statement.

Toyota’s donation comes after the Detroit 3 auto makers pledged a combined $26 million in June and Penske Corp. promised $10 million in July.

Chrysler Group L.L.C. donated $6 million, while Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. tapped their charitable arms to each pledge $10 million.

Supporters of the plan also are seeking donations from automotive suppliers.

U.S. District Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, who has led the fund-raising effort, and Mr. Gargaro met with executives from several suppliers last month, the Detroit Free Press reported then.

Among the companies participating in the meeting were Lear Corp., TriMas Corp., Metaldyne Corp. and Meritor Inc., as well as Japanese-owned firms Aisin Seiki, Denso and Yazaki, the paper said.

The companies did not make any initial pledges, but decisions are expected to be made later this month.

This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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