Columbus Ticket Fee

In an historic moment for the arts, Columbus City Council, led by Council President Shannon Hardin, approved two ordinances on December 10, 2018 that will provide new public dollars to invest in the arts. This is the culmination of 15 years of research indicating Columbus was drastically underfunded publicly in the arts.

This investment will keep the arts strong in Columbus, protecting and building on a $412.3 million economic impact each year, including 15,000 jobs. This investment will make Columbus more competitive with cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Nashville, who we compete with for business, tourism and residents. And this investment means more arts education opportunities for children, more free festivals in our neighborhoods and more support for artists in all disciplines. The implementation date is July 1, 2019.

On this page you’ll find the final ordinances, media coverage and other key research.

If you have questions, please contact Jami Goldstein at

Creation, Innovation & Inclusion Fund Ordinance 3378-2018

Facility Stabilization Fund Ordinance 3379-2018

Link to City of Columbus Auditor’s FAQs, Forms and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions About Applying the Ticket Fee

Guidance on how to talk about the Ticket Fee in digital and print communications

Why the ticket fee is important:

Columbus and Franklin County have rapidly gained stature as Ohio’s most successful community, the heart of a premier Midwestern and national region. The presence of non-profit arts and culture and professional sports and entertainment attractions here is a major reason. These dynamic sectors of our economy and community are responsible for thousands of jobs, billions in economic benefits, endless opportunities for children and youth, and critical energy for our quality of life.

But these two sectors, vibrant as they are, need additional public investment to prevent the erosion of quality offerings and facilities. Multiple studies have indicated the need for more public funding in the arts, including the Funding Review and Advisory Council (FRAC) convened by Mayor Coleman in 2012. During the past five years we have engaged in a continuous process of study and planning, alongside work and engagement with others in the community in pursuit of a fair and viable solution to successfully address the problem and prepare us for the next 25 years of growth in Columbus.

Background on the process to City Council’s vote:
On Nov. 27, Council President Hardin released the “Columbus Art Alliance” plan after City Council poured through research and analysis and listened to all constituent perspectives through a public hearing, online survey (results here), emails, phone calls and meetings. City Council continued with more listening and dialogue with constituents and convened a second public hearing to gather more input, ideas and recommendations.

City Council’s plan is fair and reasonable.

It will:

  • Provide for a 5% ticket fee on ticketed arts, cultural, entertainment, and professional sporting events to provide public funding for the arts and for cultural facilities upkeep in Columbus. (College and K-12 athletic events are exempt.) GCAC initially proposed a 7% fee.
  • Ensure that Nationwide Arena pays for its own needed improvements and contributes as a community partner to support the arts. City Council made it crystal clear the arena must generate its own funds for its capital improvements and contribute 20% of those generated funds to support capital improvements at other public cultural facilities.
  • Increase access to art and art education for all children and families regardless of their zip code.
  • Increase the number of artists and arts organizations funded each year.
  • Keep GCAC’s recommended exemption for venues with 400 or less seats.
  • Retain GCAC’s suggested exemption of $10 tickets and under.
  • Exempt movie tickets $10 and under.
  • Exempt all 501(c ) organizations, except those arts organizations receiving Operating Support from GCAC.
  • Exempt K-12 sports and OSU sports. However, Council President Hardin received a commitment from OSU to provide $1 million annually to support arts in Columbus.

City Council’s “Columbus Art Alliance” plan is a new, bold funding strategy to invest in the arts and public cultural facilities. The funds generated by the 5% ticket fee will be invested in two major funds – The Creativity Fund and the Stability Fund – and implemented through grants managed by the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC). Here’s how the two funds will work:

  1. The Creativity Fund is a 5% ticket fee on all arts, culture, entertainment and sports events in Columbus in venues with more than 400 seats and on tickets more than $10. The 5% fee is projected to generate $6 million annually to support the arts, artists and arts education. However, the 5% ticket fee applied to events held at Nationwide Arena will be directed to a second fund called the Stability Fund.
  2. The Stability Fund is a 5% ticket fee on all events, including Blue Jacket matches, held at Nationwide Arena. From this ticket fee revenue generated at the Arena, 80% will be used for capital improvements for the publicly-owned arena as outlined in a schedule provided to city council, and 20% will be contributed for the upkeep of aging cultural buildings in Columbus. Council’s plan ensures that only funds generated by Nationwide Arena are used for capital improvements there, but that Nationwide Arena still provides support for other arts, cultural and entertainment facility needs in Columbus.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council applauds Council President Hardin’s bold and forward thinking proposal, and is grateful to Columbus City Council for voting yes on these solutions to sustain the arts in Columbus.



Media Coverage

City Attorney concurs ticket-taxes referendum petitions legally insufficient, Columbus Dispatch, July 25, 2019

Anti-ticket tax group failed to collect enough valid signatures for ballot issue, Columbus Dispatch, July 22, 2019

Editorial: Charter amendment to repeal ticket fees should be rejected, July 14, 2019

Columbus City Council Approves 5 Percent Ticket Tax, NBC4

Columbus City Council Gives Greenlight to Ticket Tax, ABC 6/Fox 28

Editorial: Columbus City Council should approve revised ticket tax, Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 3, 2018

City Council hears testimony about ticket tax proposal, NBC4, Nov. 29, 2018

Columbus ticket tax proposal cut to 5%, with Nationwide Arena funding its own improvements and Ohio State kicking in $1M a year, Columbus Business First, Nov. 27, 2018

Opinion: Ticket tax for the arts essential to protecting Columbus’ vibrant economy, Columbus Business First, Nov. 16, 2018

New coalition steps up to proclaim support for 7% ticket tax, Columbus Business First, Nov. 8, 2018

Don Brown on Should the city of Columbus impose a ticket fee? Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 28, 2018

Editorial: Columbus Ticket Tax deserves support but not in its current form, Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 21, 2018

4 arts nonprofits share their budgets – and what they’d do if they get more funding, Columbus Business First, Oct. 11, 2018

From the editor: Ticket tax plan isn’t perfect but it would benefit Columbus, Columbus Business First, Sept. 21, 2018

Letter to the editor: Tax would preserve our quality of life, Jim Sweeney, The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 20, 2018

Letter to the editor: Protect investment with the user fee, Jeff Mathes, The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 26, 2018

Columbus’ thriving arts sector, vibrant facilities and arena are worth a ticket fee, Columbus Business First, Sept. 21, 2018

Just the Ticket, Columbus CEO, September 2018

Letters to the Editor, “Bed-tax dollars don’t go to Arena,” Sally Bloomfield and “More funding of arts will help city thrive,” Mark Corna, August 12, 2018

Selling the Ticket Tax, Columbus Business First, August 3, 2018

Nationwide Arena trails competitors in spending on renovations, The Columbus Dispatch, June 24, 2018

Nationwide Arena juggles repair projects while awaiting fate of ticket tax, The Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2018

Arts need more public support, Nick Akins letter to the Editor, The Columbus Dispatch, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

EDITORIAL: Healthy arts, arena are worth ticket fee, The Columbus Dispatch, February 2, 2018

Arts Council pitching plan for more public dollars through city, county, Columbus Business First, January 30, 2018

‘User fee’ on ticket sales would benefit Columbus arts groups, The Columbus Dispatch, January 26, 2018

EDITORIAL: Local arts mean business, The Columbus Dispatch, Monday, August 14, 2017

Other related resources

Contact information for public officials

2018 Public Forum Presentation

Video of our three free public forums are posted on our Facebook page

Ohio Revised Code re: Admissions

Per capita comparison graph

Examples of Ohio and peer city ticket fees

Admissions tax research

Great museums seem to matter for the locations on the shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2, The Washington Post, April 20, 2018

Arts & Economic Prosperity V

Arts Council 2018 Interim Report

Arts Council 2017 Final Report

The Creative Industries in Franklin County, OH, American for the Arts, 2017

The 2018 Ohio Creative Industries Report, Center for Regional Development, Bowling Green State University

Public Revenue Sources Considered to Provide Sustainability Support to Columbus Arts and Culture

Citations for arts and community studies, 2006-2018