City Council developed a fair and equitable plan to stabilize arts funding in Columbus

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Last week Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin unveiled a bold and forward-thinking plan providing revisions to the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s ticket fee proposal. I am immensely grateful to City Council for demonstrating their belief that public funding for the arts strengthens our city and neighborhoods.

Columbus has grown and thrived as a premier community in large part because of its nonprofit arts and cultural attractions. These dynamic sectors are responsible for thousands of jobs, millions in economic benefits, endless education opportunities for children and families, and critical energy for our quality of life.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

However, additional public investment is needed to prevent the erosion of quality offerings and facilities, and to keep them working to produce all the economic, educational and quality-of-life benefits for our community.

City Council’s new Columbus Art Alliance proposal creates two funds to invest in the arts and our community.

The first fund is the Creativity Fund to be created via a citywide 5 percent ticket/admissions fee on arts, culture, sports and entertainment events (not including events held at Nationwide Arena which is addressed in the second fund explained below.) The Creativity Fund directly serves artists, cultural organizations and neighborhoods.

The council’s proposal keeps the exemptions recommended by GCAC for venues with less than 400 seats and admission to live arts events of $10 or under. City Council also will exempt movie tickets $10 and less. This is fair and ensures that families and smaller organizations and businesses are not unduly burdened.

The second fund, the Stability Fund, is created to allow Nationwide Arena to fund its own capital improvement needs and also to provide financial support for the arts.  A 5 percent ticket/admissions fee will apply to all events held at the publicly-owned arena, including Blue Jackets games. From the revenue generated by this ticket fee at arena events, 80 percent will be used for capital improvements there, and the remaining 20 percent will contribute to capital needs at other Columbus cultural and entertainment facilities. This addresses the concerns expressed by the community about a fee on arts and cultural events being used to support capital improvements to the arena.

We believe everyone, regardless of their income or the zip code in which they live, deserves access to the arts. Public investment ensures that our arts and cultural organizations are able to continue to develop programs that are accessible and inclusive. These programs cost organizations money to create, raise little to no revenue, but touch hundreds of thousands of lives annually in our neighborhoods.

Furthermore, public investment in the arts provides the incubation dollars needed to help new organizations get started and thrive, which ensures equitable opportunities to underserved arts groups in our city. Artist grants help creators in all disciplines be entrepreneurial and innovative, building our creative economy. The economic, educational and civic impact of the arts is vital to a vibrant and healthy community.

City Council will vote on the ticket fee proposal this month. If you support public funding for the arts,  please write city council at artsurvey@columbus.gov or call them at 614.645-7380 and let them know that you approve of their plan.

There is still work to do. There is opposition to this proposal and it is important that everyone who supports public investment in the arts help ensure that the facts of the proposal are communicated to those who may not be as familiar with the plan. A citizens group, now 2,000 strong has formed to share their voices.  Please consider adding yours and getting the facts for yourself. Find out more on the Protect Art 4 Columbus website.

It is important that we stem the tide of misleading sound bites. Facts matter.

A 5 percent ticket fee, paid by the ticket purchaser, in the city of Columbus, will help keep the jobs, income, educational value, and civic vitality flowing to our community.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.