Toward the Twenty-First Century
REELING FROM THE CRISES OF THE 1970S, Michiganians hoped that the new decade of the 1980s would bring them more stability and security, but the unresolved issues of the 1970s precluded any chance for rapid improvement in the state's economic and social climate. Over the years Michigan's once-abundant natural resources had been depleted, but mining, lumbering, and shipping continued to provide wealth to businesses, and the state's many lakes, rivers, and streams still afforded recreational opportunities to residents and tourists. However, fish rendered inedible by high levels of toxic mercury, ground water supplies infected by waste disposal dumps, and state parks littered with garbage from thoughtless campers provided ample proof that Michigan's environment required ever-increasing protection from both corporate and individual exploitation and pollution. As prices for automobiles and fuel moved upward, calls arose, especially from residents in large metropolitan areas, for creation of a statewide mass transit system to meet the needs of both inner-city residents and commuting suburbanites. The urgency of this requirement was intensified by studies showing that the state's expressway system, designed in the 1950s to meet the needs of residents for at least the next fifty years, was already overburdened by traffic, in turn causing an unanticipated need for costly and inconvenient roadway resurfacing.
Culturally, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Council for the Arts, the Interlochen Arts Academy, which boasted such artists as pianist Van Cliburn on its faculty, and a host of privately financed summer stock theaters throughout the state, attested to the quality of and interest in the arts in Michigan. Yet each time state and local budgets faced a deficit, the arts were the first to fall victim to reduced funding, while government officials