Philadelphia councilman proposes tax for orchestra, theater

Posted on: April 3, 2009

In Friday’s (4/3) Philadelphia Inquirer, Jeff Shields reports, “Tickets to plays, musicals, symphonies, and operas in Philadelphia would be taxed at the 5 percent rate charged for sporting events, concerts, and movies under a proposal introduced in City Council yesterday. Councilman Darrell L. Clarke’s bill to eliminate a long-standing exemption to the city’s amusement tax hit a sour note with the performing-arts community. … The tax law exempts ‘legitimate theater shows’ and organizations ‘conducted for the sole purpose of maintaining symphony orchestras, opera performances, and artistic presentations.’ Expanding it would hit the city’s most established venues, most of them nonprofits, including the Kimmel Center, the Academy of Music, and the Walnut Street, Wilma, and Arden Theaters–perhaps even community theaters, advocates said yesterday.” Julie Hawkins, vice president of public policy at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, says performing-arts groups are exempted because of the community service they provide. “City performing-arts venues serve nearly 600,000 school-age children and 3.4 million customers and employ 9,000 people, she said, adding that the average $20 ticket costs about $40 to produce.”

Posted April 3, 2009