The Detroit Institute of Arts is working to persuade voters to authorize a tax to support the cultural institution, promising free admission and expanded programming if it passes while raising the possibility that the museum would be a shadow of its current self if it's rejected.

The Aug. 7 vote follows last year's shuttering of the nearby Detroit Science Center after the educational attraction's appeal for a cash infusion fell flat and comes as museums around the country learn to survive without support from state or local government budgets.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is asking voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to approve a 10-year tax that works out to $20 per year on a home worth $200,000. It would raise an estimated $23 million a year, nearly as much as the museum's current annual operating budget.

"The DIA will have the kind of financial stability it hasn't had for 40 years," said Graham W. J. Beal, the museum's director.

The museum would get a decade to focus fundraising efforts on building its endowment, Beal said, with the long-term goal of becoming financially independent. If the proposal fails, however, he said the museum would be forced to cut its hours, opening only two or three days a week. Some galleries would close to the public, and the museum would no longer have special exhibitions that routinely draw big crowds.

The museum has appealed to voters using TV ads and yard signs, as well as a busy spring and summer of events.

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