There’s an article in today’s Detroit Free Press by Frank Provenzano and Mark Stryker about a plan in Michigan to introduce a new tax that would raise and distribute funds to arts groups across the state.
According to the article the legislation being introduced by state Sen. Shirley Johnson:
” calls for a 5-percent statewide tax on tickets to college and professional sports and many arts and entertainment events, including rock and symphony concerts, theater productions and museum exhibits.
The tax would generate estimated revenues of at least $50 million, of which $30 million to $35 million would be funneled into arts grants. An additional $5 million would go to for-profit venues for economic development projects. A yet-to-be-determined portion would go to universities for scholarships.”
This is just a bad idea, regardless of how many good intentions are behind the idea. I remember years back when the city of Denver decided to build a new baseball stadium for their franchise expansion baseball team, The Rockies.
In order to pay for the stadium the city enacted a tax on all entertainment events to help subsidize the cost of the stadium. That means the cost of an orchestra went up just to help out the baseball team.
There’s nothing good about that situation no matter which way you turn it. It’s wrong to force orchestra patrons to pay for sporting venues and sporting fans to pay for arts funding. It’s nothing more than a representative example of the old saying “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
All entertainment organizations, sports and the arts, need to rely on finding a steady source of income on their own, not from forced donations or mandatory taxation.
Michigan State Senator Johnson was quoted in the paper as saying:
“This bill creates a model for arts funding that would put Michigan in the national forefront “
It sounds more like state Senator Shirley Johnson is interested in putting state Senator Shirley Johnson in the national forefront rather than a model for arts funding to me.
Although it’s too late in Denver to change the past, I hope Michigan doesn’t walk down the same road.