PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Call it a ticket tax — a seven percent sales tax on tickets you purchase to any of Pittsburgh’s performing arts — the ballet, the symphony, the opera, dance, musical events, or a favorite play.
Right now, performances at non-profits are not subject to sales tax.
But they could be taxed under a preliminary budget plan Republican leaders are circulating in Harrisburg.
As KDKA political editor Jon Delano first reported last week, in the mix would be an end to tax exemptions for things like (1) personal care services, such as haircuts and manicures, (2) parking in a lot or a garage, (3) digital downloads of music or e-books, (4) admission to amusement parks, ski slopes, golf courses, and bowling alleys, and (5) tickets to movies and other forms of entertainment.
A lot of folks say that theater tickets are expensive enough, especially for the young and the elderly, without adding a seven percent sales tax on top of it all.
“Theater or art has to be given special treatment in that aspect,” said George Hovhannisyan of Mt. Washington.
It’s a message echoed by Mitch Swain, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, who issued an advocacy alert to member organizations and supporters.
“It would be tougher for people who have tight economic situations to go to arts and cultural events,” says Swain.
And it could severely affect large group sales.
“Start thinking of a busload of school children attending an event at one of our downtown venues,” he says.
Swain says Pittsburgh’s cultural arts support 20,000 jobs and are a boon to restaurants downtown, so he’s urging everyone to contact legislators.
“Tell them that you don’t think applying a sales tax to arts and cultural events is a good idea,” he said.