Ticket Tax Opposition Group Falls Short on Signatures for Ballot Measure
Looks like the ticket taxes, as introduced by the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) last summer and passed by Columbus City Council in December, are here to stay. The two 5 percent fees were enacted on July 1, and the group hoping to overturn them on this year’s ballot has failed to submit enough valid signatures.
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law announced in January their intent to fight the ticket taxes, asserting that “funding private art and the operations of private art corporations is neither an essential nor proper function of government.” The group was to submit at least 11,030 valid signatures to get a charter amendment on the ballot, which would have prohibited these and any future ticket taxes.
On July 11, the group submitted 22,095 signatures, but only 10,746 were considered to be valid.
“We are relieved that our opponents do not have enough signatures, but not really that surprised,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President and CEO, in a statement. “We know Columbus residents want and support a strong arts community, and they recognize that this user fee is a fair and reasonable way to sustain nonprofit arts organizations and to ensure that children and families in all neighborhoods have access to arts and cultural experiences.”
The ticket fees will affect arts, culture, entertainment, and sports events in Columbus, with a few exceptions, such as Ohio State games. One fee, expected to raise $6 million annually, will affect tickets that cost over $10 or that gain entry to venues that hold 400 people are more, not including Nationwide Arena. Those funds will support arts groups funded through GCAC.
The second ticket tax only pertains to events at Nationwide Arena, and will generate $3 million annually, $2.4 million for improvements to the arena, and the rest for additional funding of the arts.
“We are grateful to all those who share our belief that public funding for the arts strengthens our city and our neighborhoods,” said Katzenmeyer. “We know that Columbus will continue to grow and thrive in large part because of its nonprofit arts and cultural attractions and the jobs, education and quality of life they provide.”