The leader of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance rallied her troops last night as 700 arts leaders gathered for the city’s annual cultural summit, calling for state leaders to tax sports teams and movie theaters the same as museums and concerts.
(September 22, 2009) - Culture czarina Peggy Amsterdam may as well have been rallying compatriots to battle on the ramparts in "Les Miserables."
Last night, the feisty Amsterdam urged mavens of the region's arts and culture community to oppose the state's 6 percent sales tax on tickets to concerts, live theater, performing arts, zoos and museums.
"This is the fight for our lives," said Amsterdam, president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which recently unveiled a campaign seeking to double audiences to arts and cultural events by 2020.
To Gov. Rendell, she asked one question: "What were you thinking?"
Stephan Salisbury and Mario F. Cattabiani
(September 22, 2009) - Hundreds of determined arts leaders attending last night's annual meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts vowed they would not go gently into that good night.
Just two days after waking to news that the proposed Pennsylvania budget agreement, announced late Friday in Harrisburg, would extend sales taxes to arts and cultural performances and venues - but not to movies or sports events - arts officials said they would blitz lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to stop the tax.
Peggy Amsterdam, head of the alliance, drew sustained applause when she framed this question for Gov. Rendell and legislative leaders: "What were you thinking?"
(September 22, 2009) - HARRISBURG, Pa. - A plan to extend Pennsylvania's sales tax to the performing arts, museums, historical sites, zoos and parks is partly designed to shift the taxpayers' share of financing those activities onto their patrons, an architect of the proposal said Tuesday.
"The idea was to try to make it a user fee as much as possible," said Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
A portion of the revenue would be funneled into a special fund reserved for supporting the arts and cultural institutions. The percentage that would be earmarked for the special fund was still being firmed up, like many details of the budget deal, and could generate more or less than previous appropriations for artistic and cultural events, Corman said.
"It's up in the air because it hasn't been written," Corman said.
(September 22, 2009) - Leaders from the state’s arts and cultural organizations today requested a meeting with Gov. Ed Rendell and key state legislators in response to the shocking plan to address the Commonwealth’s budget woes with a new amusement tax on nonprofit arts and cultural event tickets.
“We never saw this coming,” said Peggy Amsterdam, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “No one could have anticipated that one of the most vital yet vulnerable sectors would become the target of a tax that puts all arts and cultural organizations at a great competitive disadvantage.”
Laura Foster, Executive Director of Please Touch Museum, said the additional tax will make arts and culture even less affordable for the diverse audiences museums seek to serve. “In these tough times, even a small increase in a ticket price can be the deciding factor for a family of four looking to spend an afternoon at Please Touch or the Philadelphia Zoo or at any number of museums that serve families,” Foster said. “We have developed many access programs so that families of varying means can visit, and we want to make sure Please Touch Museum continues to be accessible to all families.”
(September 21, 2009) - The leader of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance rallied her troops last night as 700 arts leaders gathered for the city’s annual cultural summit, calling for state leaders to tax sports teams and movie theaters the same as museums and concerts.
Alliance Executive Director Peggy Amsterdam said the proposed “amusement tax” that state officials estimate will raise $100 million this fiscal year through a 6 to 8 percent sales tax on previously exempt arts nonprofits could lead to an erosion of attendance.
“We work on a very thin margin,” Amsterdam said. “We also want to know why tickets to sporting events or movies aren’t being taxed. Why are we being singled out.”
(September 21, 2009) - Some 700 arts-and-cultural leaders in Philadelphia plan to gather Monday night to discuss how to fight a new state amusement tax.
At issue is a ... tax on box-office revenue that was part of a budget deal reached over the weekend, according to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which has 375 member organizations.
Cultural Alliance officials argue that the state is “taxing people out of an affordable cultural experience” and arts organizations will be put at an unfair disadvantage. Arts organizations are already operating on thin margins, with 40 percent running at a deficit. Even without the tax, the nonprofit arts community in five southeastern counties of Pennsylvania generate $70 million a year in state and local taxes, the organization said.
(September 21, 2009) - It's not enough just to show up, you've got to participate. So says a new report by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance studying audiences who attend art galleries, dance performances, and theater. A two-year survey of regional arts organizations shows that cultural events need to work harder to retain their audiences.
(September 21, 2009) - Like you, we heaved a massive sigh of relief last week when House Bill 1828 was finally passed in Harrisburg, saving Philly from an immediate future of nightmarish dystopian proportions (about which, to be honest, we had a kind of morbid curiosity, but it’s best not to dwell on such things).
In any case, only a Philadelphian fool would expect no other shoe to drop when a bargain is made with Harrisburg, and folks, here it is: Snuck into the bill is a performing arts and museum tax that would add 8% for tickets purchased in the city and 6% for those purchased outside. Movies and sports are exempt, but not much else is.
(September 21, 2009) - Nearly three months after the legal deadline, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and legislative leaders have reached an agreement to balance the budget.
Lawmakers announced a $27.9-billion deal on Friday night that would raise taxes on cigarettes and businesses, legalize table games such as blackjack, craps, roulette and poker at casinos and draw from the state's rainy-day fund to close the $3.2-billion revenue shortfall.
A component of the tentative deal that has already caused some controversy is a 6-percent sales tax on nonprofit cultural organizations, levied to raise $100 million.
"The tax is likely to have a devastating effect on cultural organizations, many of which have been hit hard by the recession," said a statement on the website of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.