Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Article: Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues

Here’s an important article you should be reading.  This is regarding what I believe is one of Cleveland’s greatest assets - the small, independent music club.


"Venues like the Happy Dog pay the same taxes as large ones, like Quicken Loans Arena, but receive none of the help from taxpayers, who subsidize construction at The Q. They do all of the cultural heavy lifting of a nonprofit without any of the foundational support, or the public helping-hand offered through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. They organically drive foot traffic, tourism, intellectual expansion and development.

For that beat to get louder, the venues need a stronger backing track.

Watterson believes another study would give advocates hard data to approach policymakers. It worked in 2013. After the Remix study was released, a coalition of music figures used the findings to lobby the city of Cleveland to lower the admissions tax from 8 percent of ticket sales to 4 percent for venues with capacities of less than 750 people.

The effort was a success. But the reduced rate is still problematic for small clubs, which pay more here than in any other large city in Ohio. Columbus imposes no tax at all. Cincinnati clubs pay 3 percent, the rate for most Ohio cities. Over the past five years, the Happy Dog paid $25,000 in music licensing fees just to host bands, and another $10,000 in admissions taxes. To a small venue, that’s the difference between scraping by and prospering.

Or in Barber’s case, the difference between paying your Saturday night act and replacing the Beachland’s worn, storm-damaged roof.

‘We might be guaranteeing [a band] $5,000 but only get $3,000 at the door,’ Barber says. ‘We’re still paying 4 percent of that $3,000 even though we lost money.’

Everyone else, meanwhile, gets extra help. Admissions tax revenue is paying for part of the renovations at Quicken Loans Arena. The city keeps 3 percent of The Q’s admissions tax payment while the other 5 percent goes to pay off existing Gateway loans, Cleveland.com reports. The nonprofits get double benefits too. They pay no property and sales taxes, and no admissions tax.

Why shouldn’t small clubs get similar assistance? With the vast value they provide to the community, one could even make a convincing case for zeroing their admissions tax rate out altogether."

(Via Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues.)

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