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November Elections Bode Well for Arts

posted by Christopher Howard — Dec 16, 2006

The change in party leadership in Congress brings hope for increased support for the arts. The Congressional Arts Report Card on the Arts, issued by the Americans for the Arts Action Fund PAC, recently gave the grade of “A” to incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). The Senate and the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittees oversee funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The previous chairs, Representative Charles Taylor (R-NC) and Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) were defeated in their election bids. Neither had proposed an increase in funding while serving on the subcommittee. Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, has cosponsored amendments to increase NEA funding and has pledged to do so if he were to become chair.

In Louisiana, the statewide Amendment Number 5 passed, which exempts consigned artwork from property taxes. Prior to this amendment, which took effect January 1, 2007, Louisiana was the only state to have such a tax, which significantly affected galleries whose inventories were subject to taxation. This legislation, it is hoped, will markedly improve the ability of Louisiana galleries to attract local, national, and international artists.

In Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, voters approved Issue 18, which will provide stable public funding for the arts for the next ten years. Issue 18 will impose a 1.5 cent tax per cigarette, or 30 cents per pack, sold in the greater Cleveland area. Funds raised by these taxes will provide close to $20 million per year for Cuyahoga County arts and culture organizations such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra. The money will be distributed through grants for operating support, project support, artist education residencies and research support, special initiatives and one-time emergency grants. All grants require matching funds, which will maintain support from the private sector to continue to strengthen Cuyahoga County’s arts funding.