Columbus eventgoers will see a raise in ticket prices this week, as the long-awaited 5 percent ticket taxes has been implemented.
The ticket taxes, which were first proposed last November, will affect Columbus’ “arts, culture, entertainment, and professional sports events.” However, the fee does not apply to tickets that cost less than $10, tickets to events that hold fewer than 400 people, or school athletic events. Separately, Nationwide Arena will receive a second tax to concerts and Blue Jackets games, with most of the revenue put aside for improving the arena.
The first fee is expected to raise $6 million annually for arts groups, while the Nationwide Arena tax should raise $2.4 million a year for the arena and $600,000 for the arts.
Jami Goldstein of the Greater Columbus Arts Council said this revenue would enable arts education or grant programs in the area.
“Columbus is drastically underfunded publically in the arts,” Goldstein told Radio WOSU. “We invest only of what Cleveland does, and less than a third than Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to enable us to support more free festivals and programs, potentially double the amount of arts education experiences provided by our organizations to nearly 2 million, and significantly increase our grants to artists, a program that we’ve already had to close this year due to lack of funds.”
However, not everyone is on-board with the ticket fee. Critics like Michael Gonidakis believe the tax will make it more difficult for organizers to come to Columbus, noting that if Columbus has to compete with surrounding cities like Indianapolis and Cleveland that have similar taxes, the city could lose out on hosting certain events. Opponents are reportedly going to submit 20,000 signatures to the City Council clerk’s office ahead of November’s ballot.
This won’t be the first time supporters will have to fight for the fee.
Late last year, a coalition dubbed Protect Art 4 Columbus was created to support the proposed fee by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, noting that the ticket fee could help double arts education opportunities for children to more than 1.5 million each year. Students in low-income areas would have opportunities to participate in theater, music, and art, even though some families are unable to buy tickets to see the Blue Jackets or a big concert.
While the fee was originally proposed with a 7 percent surcharge, that number was knocked down to 5 percent in late November.