Group rallies support for Columbus ticket tax

A proposed seven percent tax on most ticket sales in Columbus will be getting support from a new group. The Greater Columbus Arts Council has proposed the tax earlier this year on nearly all sports, music and theater tickets to fund art projects and programs in the city. (WSYX/WTTE)

A proposed seven percent tax on most ticket sales in Columbus will be getting support from a new group. The Greater Columbus Arts Council has proposed the tax earlier this year on nearly all sports, music and theater tickets to fund art projects and programs in the city.

The new group has called itself "Protect Art 4 Columbus". It touted itself as a group of art enthusiasts, sports fans and other community members.

"You never know what that's going to lead to," said James Ragland, one of the people in the group about the arts programs the revenues from the new fee would fund. "One of these kids may dance with Alvin Ailey in the future. One of these kids may sing on a Broadway stage in Hamilton or something like that because of their exposure to this type of environment."

The ticket tax would also pay for improvements at Nationwide Arena like a new roof.

"If they need more money, why don't they ask for more from the Arts Council who has a pot of $7 million of our tax dollars already," said Mike Gonidakis with the group Advocates for Responsible Taxation (ART), which formed to oppose the tax. "If Nationwide Arena needs a new roof, they should put a user fee on every ticket sold at Nationwide Arena, not tax the rest of us because we want to see a Christmas play."

Other cities have a ticket tax already but Gonidakis contended that gives Columbus a competitive advantage attracting shows and events. Supporters of the tax maintain the seven percent fee would be a small price to live in a cosmopolitan city.

"Maybe hockey is not my thing but the arts is," Ragland said. "I'm going to go and do what I can to maintain a vibrant city, not just one aspect of it."

Columbus City Council would have to vote to approve the ticket tax. Council staff said a public hearing will be scheduled first later this year. No vote would be taken until after that hearing.

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Follow Ben Garbarek on Facebook and Twitter: @BenWSYX6

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