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Statewide Civic Leaders and Arts Supporters Band Together to Fight Arts Tax

September 29, 2009
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Allian
1616 Walnut Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA  19103

John McInerney

Statewide Civic Leaders and Arts Supporters Band Together to Fight Arts Tax
Tax on the arts will impact educational services, hurt working class attendees, reduce tourism, and devastate cultural groups

Philadelphia, PA – September 29, 2009 – Arts supporters and civic leaders from around the state continue to express their opposition to a proposed “Arts Tax” that is discriminatory and counter-productive.

“This tax will be devastating,” said Peggy Amsterdam, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.  “The impact of this tax will be felt across the state, putting arts organizations in the red, jeopardizing educational programs, and impacting every citizen in the state.”  

A statewide analysis shows that a 6% tax on tickets at nonprofit cultural organizations will generate less than $13 million in revenue, out of approximately $120 million in proposed revenue that the tax will raise from both for-profit and non-profit groups. The governor had stated earlier that he wanted to see $100 million in additional revenue to balance the budget.

“I do not understand the logic of taxing arts and culture, particularly given their vulnerability and economic value, while exempting smokeless tobacco and candy, given their public health costs,” said Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund, a national leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization.  “This is bad public policy based on misguided priorities.”    

"The business and civic communities in Pennsylvania have spent the last
25 years demonstrating the incredible and growing value of arts to the state's economy and economic future.  This tax undermines and flies in the face of all that work,” said David Thornburgh, Executive Director of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.  "The arts ticket tax is a bad idea that came from a bad process – the quintessential backroom deal sealed and delivered minutes before the stroke of midnight."

Statewide, there are 4,900 arts and cultural organizations in Pennsylvania; 86% of those organizations are community-based and have annual operating budgets of less than $250,000.  Two in five cultural attendees are children, and only 7% of arts attendees are wealthy (>$150,000/yr).

A grassroots protest group gathered on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia on Friday, September 25, and additional rallies are planned around the state.

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is committed to helping community arts and cultural organizations thrive throughout the area.  The Cultural Alliance is a leadership organization of over 375 nonprofit arts and cultural institutions located primarily in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Its mission is making Greater Philadelphia the foremost creative region in the world.  For more information, visit