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$65 Million in Arts Tax Revenue

By Patrick clark
On August 24, 2011

In 2006, Cuyahoga county in northern Ohio, approved a 10 – year cigarette tax to support the arts in the region.

Halfway through that initiative, more than $65 million has been given to over 150 arts organizations in the area. In 2010 alone, the tax income was over $17 million.

Before 2006, Cuyahoga county had an annual arts budget of nearly zero.

Since 2006, one and a half cents from every cigarette sold in the county goes to fund these different arts programs.

The public body that distributes the funds gathered, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, released these figures at the end of May.

"We have long been saying that the arts and culture aren't just extras," the executive director of the organization, Karen Gahl-Milis said in a statement.

According to the report, the arts group supported by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture employed over 5,000 staff and generated $280 million in fiscal activity.

Also according to the report, there has been a significant increase in arts education with after school classes, workshops and events increasing attendance and participation by 103 percent.

There has been resistance to this effort by some including Republican Ohio state Senator Bill Seitz.

The Senator is in support of public funding for the arts; however, he is not in favor of a local tax.

He believes that this tax drives people out of the state to support their craving.

When 2016 comes around, voters will have to decide whether to re-authorize the tax. However, by that time cigarette sales are projected to decrease due to increased awareness and with it a decrease in the funding for the arts.

In the past, the public has rejected a number of other initiatives related to tax increases including a property tax and a tax on cell phones.

Yet, until that time, smokers will continue to support the visual, musical and creative arts.

"These investments support a strong quality of life that has allowed us to participate in a wide variety of activities that take place across the country," Grahl-Milis said.

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