The City of Atlanta could get a small sales tax to support the arts. For every dollar spent in the city, one-tenth of a penny would go into a fund for music, dance, theater, fine art or other creative endeavors. That money would generate an estimated $15 million a year. City leaders hope to let voters decide the matter in a referendum this November.
City Lights Host Lois Reitzes discussed the plan with WABE Arts and Culture Reporter (and "All Things Considered Host") Amy Kiley.
- When it comes to funding the arts, Georgia ranks near the bottom among states. Arts advocates have wanted to change that for years, and, in 2008, a delegation from Atlanta traveled to Denver to learn about that city's arts sales tax. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced his plan for an arts sales tax in his State of the City address;
- The timeline to make this happen is tight since the city needs legislative approval to put a sales tax referendum on the November ballot. The deadline to introduce the plan as a local bill is Monday, March 20, though the tax could get added to other legislation later;
- If the Georgia legislature approves the plan, the Atlanta City Council could move to put it on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
- Arts advocates largely support the plan and want to see more funding for organizations of all sizes, but some are concerned about the distribution of the tax money. Reed has said he wants the money to go toward smaller groups, but, in Denver, the majority of the money goes to larger groups;
- Atlanta’s biggest arts organization, the Woodruff Arts Center, has been a key lobbyist for the sales tax;
- If a distribution model isn’t enshrined in state legislation, local leaders will have time to work out details. If it is in the bill, constituents won’t have much time to bring their views to state lawmakers. The legislative session ends March 30.
You can voice your opinion on the proposed one-tenth of a penny sales tax for the arts in the City of Atlanta. The city is accepting public input via a survey. Click here to view it.
More information is on the website of the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs.