Artists, patrons, and neighborhood leaders have teamed up to form a coalition in Columbus, hoping to sway residents’ opinions on a ticket tax.
The coalition, Protect Art 4 Columbus, was formed to support the proposed admissions fee by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – which is now being considered by the Columbus City Council. Protect Art hopes to help Columbus residents understand why a tax would help, not hurt the city.
If passed, the tax would go toward additional funding for the Arts Council and allow more access to the arts in low-income areas. With a 7 percent surcharge, the Arts Council could raise $13 million annually, meaning that 70 percent of that revenue could go toward art organizations, while 30 percent would benefit the Nationwide Arena.
“The arts benefit low-income people,” Jim Sweeney, the former executive director of the Franklinton Development Association, said in a press release. “Not too many low-income people are buying tickets to see the Blue Jackets or Phil Collins in concert. $100 tickets aren’t in reach for people in Franklinton. But, if GCAC has double the funding opportunity to create double the public art or support arts organizations in the city, that’s a benefit for them.”
Protect Art co-chair Stefanie Coe explained the importance of the fee for children in under-served communities.
“With the ticket fee, we can double arts education opportunities for children to more than 1.5 million each year,” Coe said. “The power of theater, music, dance and art in all forms allows us to come together to share our lives, emotions and passions, even if we don’t speak the same language.
“We have a community obligation to ensure there is a sustainable future for arts education and outreach programs and the many children who depend on those efforts.”
Retired CEO of Corna Kokosing Construction Co. and current co-chair of Protect Art Mark Corna said the fee would also help protect Columbus’ businesses, noting that the arts and sports “are real draws that help retract and retain young talent and businesses.”
“I feel very strongly for us to have a really great city … we need a balance of addressing social services, the arts and economic development,” he told Columbus Business First. “We have a dynamic city … and that attracts businesses. If we lose that, then we lose the momentum Columbus is seeing.
The proposed fee would affect tickets more than $10 and would not go into effect at venues that hold less than 400 people. With the revenue raised from bigger events, the 20-year-old Nationwide Arena would be repaired, therefore allowing the venue to book more events in the future.
While there is no date for when the admissions fee will be voted on, the coalition has reportedly been prevalent for a while, and members will continue to advocate for the arts.