New DIA director to be paid $375K

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The new director of the Detroit Institute of Arts will begin his tenure Thursday under a five-year contract with a salary of $375,000, with graduated increases over time.

Salvador Salort-Pons will take over as the museum’s 11th director. The 45-year-old Spaniard is the former DIA curator of European art and executive director of collection strategies and information.

His contract calls for a total base salary of $475,000 in the fifth year in 2020.

DIA officials said Salort-Pons “is eager to begin working on his top priorities, which include meeting with DIA staff, hiring a curator of contemporary art and securing financial stability for the museum.”

His first week will also be filled with activities leading up to Sunday’s opening of the special exhibition “30 Americans.”

“I am honored and very excited to begin my tenure as director of the DIA,” Salort-Pons said. “There are many opportunities for engagement with our various communities, and I am dedicated to making an accessible museum where everyone feels comfortable and can enjoy a friendly and memorable experience. I do see our DIA as a unifying place for all.”

Former DIA director Graham Beal, who left on June 30, was paid a salary of $430,000.

DIA Chairman of the Board, Eugene A. Gargaro, Jr., said in recent days he sent information on Salort-Pons’ compensation to all three county art authorities — which collect about $23 million a year in taxpayer dollars from residents in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

The DIA must inform the counties of compensation decisions before they are enacted under an agreement hammered out after an October 2014 firestorm over previous raises and bonuses awarded to DIA executives amid Detroit's historic bankruptcy.

Gargaro also said Salort-Pons’ salary is consistent with median salaries of museum executives nationally.

“The whole point of that exercise was so no one has to read it in your report and they understand what we are doing before we do it,” Gargaro said. “We are working hard at being transparent.”

Of Salort-Pons’ tenure, “I’m very excited about how he is going to hit the ground running and I’m going to hand him the ball.”

“These are very exciting times for Detroit and Michigan and we fully expect that under Salvador’s leadership our museum will continue to expand its community outreach and further enhance its acclaimed visitor-friendly experience,” Gargaro said.

Voters in the three counties approved a .2-mil regional tax in 2012 to fund museum operations. The tax expires in 2022.