Anyone who knows me will be very surprised that I have managed to NOT get blatantly political here for almost 3 months now! But, all things must come to an end….
And here’s what did it: The PA legislature finally passed a budget last Friday—at around midnight. I am thrilled for my friends who work for the state because some of them went without paychecks for a couple of weeks. What I’m not thrilled about is the planned 6—8% tax they want to impose on the purchase of tickets to non-profit cultural events. Really folks? You wanna kick non-profs when they’re already down?
Non-profit arts organizations have been struggling mightily for almost a decade now. Corporate sponsorships are down as large corporations tighten their belts—or go under. Grant money has been slowly drying up. And ticket sales and subscriptions have dropped an average of 20% per season. And now this—it will be the death knell for many of the area’s small innovative companies.
Here’s a little bit from the city’s main newspaper
“Peggy Amsterdam, head of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, drew sustained applause when she framed this question for Gov. Rendell and legislative leaders: ‘What were you thinking?
‘Your proposal to extend the sales tax to arts and culture activities - a proposal snuck in at the last minute in a backroom deal - attempts to balance the commonwealth's $28 billion budget on the back of one of its most valuable and vulnerable industries,’Amsterdam said.
‘It will price everyday people out of arts experiences, and it will push key cultural institutions to the brink. Yet with as much potential for economic and social damage as this tax threatens, it yields only a paltry one-third of 1 percent impact on state revenues.”
And to add insult to injury, movies and sporting events are not included! Does that seem fair? Everyone needs the arts. It has been proven time and time again that
a) Children who receive arts education in school do better in other subjects
b) Arts organizations actually bring in more revenue and positive impact to a city than a sports team does.
The state claims they need to do this in order to continue a modicum of arts education in the schools. Every arts organization I know of has an educational department that offers—many times free of charge—in-school programming and live performances. If this tax goes into law, ticket sales will go way down and the companies will no longer be able to continue their educational outreach.
Gotta love our government at work……
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