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Local supporters push sales tax for arts

It is an idea intended to forge an alliance within the Fayette County arts community that will work to help bring about a voter referendum to benefit the cultural arts by using a fraction of a penny in local sales taxes already being collected.

Fayette Art Center Executive Director Kathaleen Brewer last week explained that the idea of having local communities vote to designate a portion of a penny of existing sales taxes to the arts first surfaced last year in the General Assembly.

Though approved by the Senate, the measure did not make it through the House. Brewer and the Georgia Communities for Growth (formerly the Friends of Arts & Culture) hope the outcome will be different this year.

Brewer said the initiative would be benefitted if those in each area of the Fayette County arts community would join together to form a local arts commission.

The process behind using a portion of existing local sales tax revenues for the arts is two-fold. The first step is to have legislation passed that will give each city or county ability to put the measure on an upcoming ballot and decide what fraction of a penny of existing sales tax would be designated.

Revenues from the allocation would be used for the arts and cultural organizations and other community development initiatives deemed appropriate.

Secondly, it would be up to voters to approve the measure.

Brewer said that, if approved, the funding could be used to pay for needed staff and to purchase vacant historic houses for renovation for arts and literary purposes. Funds could help pay for the conversion of unused buildings into centers for various arts and cultural activities.

“All of this would increase tourism and provide education and public access to the cultural arts,” Brewer said. “We are still the only metro Atlanta county without a cultural arts community and cultural arts category in government and within the chamber of commerce. We could become ‘The Center’ within the Southern Arc and that would help keep property values up.”

Those interested in participating in the arts initiative should contact Kathaleen Brewer at or at 678-545-0275.



Why can't the cultural arts stand on its own? Sorry, but the last thing we need is a portion of sales tax income redirected from other arguably more important needs.

I'm not buying the "keep property values up" argument that was directly quoted. So you mean to tell me that the cultural arts communities in neighboring Henry and Clayton counties have bolstered property values there?

This sounds similar to the group of horse people a short while back that wanted to build a large equine facility using tax dollars. If I remember correctly, they claimed that through various equine events, county fairs, etc. the center would more than pay for itself. If this were true, then a private bank should have no problem footing the initial costs since the investment is so solid and without risk.

Trust me. The last thing we need in these economic times is to go around purchasing and renovating vacant homes for arts and literary purposes. While I'm at it, why sneak in the phrase literary purposes? Isn't that why we have libraries?

I'm certain that anyone would have to have been living in a sound proof bubble for the past years to disagree with you on the point that times are tough in regards to the economy. I will also agree with you on your point about property values to some extent. Perhaps the best examples for property values increasing due to arts support are found in a more metropolitan area such as Midtown Atlanta or Castleberry HIll. I'm not certain that a suburban artistic alliance would do anything for Fayette County property values given all of the other virtues of the community that speak for themselves.
I will though, absolutely 10,000 per cent disagree with you that the arts would have any ability to stand on their own, especially now. Let's break a painting down into more business terms that you might understand. For a single oil painting you need paints (and I'm not talking about an inferior set from the large chain craft store) , you need canvas or board, you need framing supplies for that canvas or board, you need brushes, you need solvents to clean brushes, you need binders to manipulate the paints and then you have to factor in time. So an artist has all of these expenses incurred on his or her own dollar. Now the challenge, who's going to buy the artwork? As you mentioned, the times are tough right now, and I'm sure since you don't feel inclined to allow a fraction of a cent go to funding the arts, you are not going to be buying a painting at this time either. Am I right? Even more challenging is that there are tons of people like you. In fact, there are a lot more yous than there are people affluent enough to really invest in an original work of art. If artists aren't funded they do not have the means to purchase the supplies they need and cannot produce work. This goes even further and affects galleries the retail establishments that sell art supplies, so now because you didn't want to sacrifice a fraction of a penny, an entire sector goes under leaving a substantial number of people joining in the fierce competition for the few minimum wage jobs that are available.
I don't even have the time to point out the benefits that the cultural arts provide for a generation of children who believe that text lingo such as LOL and OMG and ROFL do proper English literature make.
Please understand, my intention is not to attack you, but to point out that the arts really can't stand alone. The arts need you to be willing to part with that one tiny fraction of a cent.

We're all adults and have our own opinions. Just because I have a differing opinion from you or Kathaleen doesn't mean that we can't express our thoughts the matter.

What amount of tax revenue is being sought? More importantly, what existing budgets will be reduced to fund these historic home restorations and to fund various arts and cultural activities? Although what is being proposed is just a fraction of collected sales tax, it still must be diverted away from existing expenditures. Keep in mind that sales tax revenue is down due to reduced consumer spending and that budgets are already strained.

If I'm following your logic above, you'd like taxpayers to fund artist's supplies so that they can produce original works of art to sell to affluent people. Either the affluent people purchasing these works of art are getting them at a reduced cost at taxpayer expense, or we're setting up an artist's welfare system at taxpayer expense.

The arts need me to be a willing part? I willingly disagree.

Dear Sir,

Your comments illustrate your lack of knowledge on this subject. Since education often solves misunderstandings, please review the following: Do keep in mind that President Bush cut arts funding by ¾ and then Gov. Perdue tried to slip a bill through that would have shut down the Georgia Council of the Arts. This new bill ensures that government officials can’t continue to undermine programs without notice. This bill also provides a stable foundation so work can go on without sudden decreases in proposed budgets. It would also allow for the industry’s growth and job creation.

“Cultural facilities enhance property values, tax resources, and overall profitability for communities. In so doing, the arts become a direct contributor to urban and rural revitalization,” says the 2002 National Governors Association. In a study conducted by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, new economy businesses cited access to the arts, music and entertainment as an important quality-of-life factor when considering a new location. When deciding to relocate to an area, businesses want to know if there is an educated workforce and cultural activities to satisfy them. One reason is the arts provide continuing education for employees, especially in the areas of expanded creativity and “out-side-box” analytical thinking. Cultural activities attract people and spur facilities such as restaurants, hotels, and the services needed to support them. In other words, the arts deliver a powerful return on investment for a healthy economy and a progressive society.

From a social aspect, the arts give people shared cultural experiences, and unite people in addressing local social issues. They promote tolerance, empathy and understanding of people from all walks of life... “Art is one of the greatest equalizers among all generations, peoples and ages and promote learning and understanding,” says Paul Blacknet, CEO and President of Worldspan.

From an educational viewpoint, according to a 1998 study, arts education was directly linked to 100-point increase in average SAT scores. At-risk students who participate in the arts are more likely to stay in school. One alternative school doubled its graduation rate by adding arts to its curriculum. Studies also confirm that students who are regularly exposed to the arts are higher achievers than those who rarely experience arts. Dodge, Dougherty and Bibb Counties addition of arts programming increased their reading and math scores from six to 23 national percentile points.

Data from the Georgia Council of the Arts:

Colquitt, a town of 2,000, had an abandon downtown and closed old theater. Its hotel was boarded up. The only place to eat was Hardees. Then in 1980, the town’s people decided to put on a performance based on local folk lore and storytelling called “Swamp Gravy”. By 1991 the Old Grow Hotel was renovated, the theater was restored and several new restaurants opened. Today the payoff is tremendous: $2 million in ticket sales, plus millions more in food, lodging and fuel. Using this revenue, the Colquitt/Miller Arts Council has invested $4 million revitalizing many downtown properties.

In Metro Atlanta, the arts generate $700 million in direct and indirect economic impact and provide more than 24,000 jobs.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra reports $350 million in personal income, $900 million in economic output and $35 million in additional tax revenue over a ten year period. From construction through operation, the total economic benefit to the state’s economy has been $1.7 billion dollars.

Susan Weiner, the President of the Georgia Council of the Arts, declared in a recent speech that arts revenues outrank sports revenues. She claims the Atlanta Braves brought in $3.5 million and the Falcons another $1 million, while arts and cultural events produced $8.7 million dollars.

What Other Counties are doing:

Douglasville has formed a Cultural Arts Council under their County Parks and Recreation Department which includes an Art Center for classes and workshops, a gallery and “art paths through their parks. Their program is called “Public Arts at Boundary Waters”. Decatur Arts Alliance helps promote over eleven galleries as well as offer art education. Carrollton Arts Center is a multimillion dollar project built and operated by the City of Carrollton. Clayton County and Clayton County School Board have invested in the Clayton Arts Alliance, a remodeled historic building that now provides a state –of-the–art gallery as well as class rooms and workshop space. Clayton County School Board also supports Spivey Hall, a fabulous performance center. The City of Rome has invested in their Rome Area Council of the Arts by helping them move into an historic building on Broad Street. They oversee art classes, exhibitions, festivals, lectures and demonstrations, dance productions, theater productions and readings. Macon, in conjunction with Bibb County, has formed Macon Arts ….A Community Alliance which has become a highly successful arts agency for Macon, Crawford, Houston, Monroe and Peach Counties. They also support 30 smaller non-profit arts organizations, two state-run Halls of Fame, three fine arts magnet schools, and the art programs in four colleges and universities as well as the growing Downtown Arts District. Tybee Island just invested in Arts on Tybee by hiring a consultant firm for a business plan. Duluth, in Gwinnett County, has an Art Center. Thomasville has an Art Center. Cobb County is building $145 million Arts Center. Madison, in Morgan County, has been named the Number One Small Town in America due to its advanced cultural arts programs within historic buildings. This small city draws thousands of people from all over the United States to participate in its venues. Columbus’s New River Center for the Performing Arts contains two theaters, a concert hall, Columbus Public Broadcasting, educational facilities and public meeting spaces. It drew 82,000 visitors in its first eight months. Tifton’s Hispanic festival “La Fiesta Del Pueblo” draws 6,000 people a year. The National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta draws over five million people during its ten days during the

The entire population of Fayette County is considered underserved by the Georgia Council of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The latest data claims there are 104,248 people in Fayette County.

Due to federal, state and local budget cutbacks, public schools can only offer an average of 30 minutes a week exposure to the arts presented by one art teacher per school. The amount spent on art projects per child cannot be assessed because allocation of funds to the arts is up to each individual principal. The 22,513 children enrolled in Fayette County schools are considered underserved when it comes to the arts by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 1,400 children enrolled in the after school programs are not provided with an arts curriculum.

10,400 retired citizens without access to continued education in the arts. This group usually participates the most in art centers because they now have the time and money to do what they always wanted to do – learn to master an art form.

The average household income of $94,320.00 equates to a majority of successful business people living in this county. This group is especially attracted to the arts because of its relationship to creative thinking and problem solving skills. They also define art lessons as time away from stress. It is a form of much needed recreation for them.

17,200 people with Bachelor’s degrees or higher. These highly educated people equate to a population previously introduced to the cultural arts. These citizens are the ones wanting more art education for their children and access to more cultural arts venues for themselves.

So what is so bad about providing support for this “organization” ? Tax money will still be going to our sports fields, County Recreation, pools, libraries, parks, etc.

By the way, “ literary purposes” was not my phrase – but that of the Citizen. A House of Literature would be a place to hold writing workshops, a collection of books by local authors, poetry readings, screen writing workshops, book exchanges etc. You cannot reserve a room for these venues on an on-going basis at either library.


Kathaleen Brewer

Kathaleen Brewer

MajorMike's picture

The cuts you spoke of during the Bush administration were driven by national furor over the "crucifix in urine" and other abuses if memory serves me correctly. Many people at that time decided that government and specifically tax money were not intended for that kind of nonsense. The situaltion was further exaberated by a rigorous defense of unfettered expression of "art". This defense was spearheaded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Today you ask, in these trying economic times, that we tax people for the personal edification of a relatively small percentage of our community.

Sorry, no sale - NO NEW TAXES.

NUK_1's picture

"Susan Weiner, the President of the Georgia Council of the Arts, declared in a recent speech that arts revenues outrank sports revenues. She claims the Atlanta Braves brought in $3.5 million and the Falcons another $1 million, while arts and cultural events produced $8.7 million dollars."

The above quote(not from you) is absolutely ludicrous about the economic impact the Braves and Falcons bring to Atlanta and shows how people with a single-purpose agenda aren't above totally dishonesty when it appears to help their agenda.

Georgia state economist Donald Ratajczak put a $147.6 million economic impact generated by the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Hawks 2000. I don't think it's gone down since then either. Even taking out debt service for the arena/stadium, you're left with a high multiple of the next-to-nothing figure used in the quote.

I can understand a lot of your points and they are well made, but you might want to leave out that one quote unless it is backed by a reliable and independent source.

Arts/culture can be a sound investment for all but there are also times when its prohibitive for it to be publically funded as much as the supporters would like. Right now in 2010 is one of those times.

PTC Observer's picture

I am certain that readers of this publication can think of many worthy causes that deserve our support. The question is what role should government play in support of these worthy causes? How is it appropriate that government should impose a tax on one group for the benefit of another group, with the argument that it is for the “common good”? This Hamiltonian notion of common good has been around since the ratification of the Constitution. It was further developed by Karl Marx in 1867 with publication of the first volume of Das Kapital the ultimate thesis on “class struggle”. It is surprising that those that fight the notion of public largess and socialism seem to forget their objections when it involves one of their pet causes.

Common good is also a concept that is a moving target, at one time during the great Progressive Era, popular mass hysteria moved state legislatures to pass the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. While the idea of public funding the “Arts” seems far from “The Noble Experiment”, they are both based on the “common good” premise.

So, what should the government do for us? Does it include great social programs that enhance the special interests of a few at the expense of the many under the banner of common good? I think not. Taxing for redistribution to special interests is morally wrong, no matter how worthy the cause. As we have seen, the moment we allowed government to fund these interests, there was no end to the worthy causes lining up at the public trough. There has been no shortage of politicians willing to spend our money on their behalf in order to insure their re-election. Common good, is a corrupting concept.

The idea that we all should live by the Golden Rule is as valid today as it was when it was first uttered and it shouldn’t be corrupted by involving our government.

Cyclist's picture

I need a pay raise.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

The average wage comes from 3 ballplayers who live there at $25 million each, and the rest average $40,000!

You can drown in a pool of water that averages 1/2'' deep.

I doubt the "art" appreciators there number very many.

Mike King's picture

Come on now, the state legislature is forcing a TSPLOST on us and now our glorious state senate approved a CSPLOST. Would someone remind these clowns that Georgians for the most part actually earn their money the hard way, they WORK for it.

I surely hope that Ms Brewer and Don Haddix don't start a dialog else he'll get his DAPC person that understands opera singing.

Git Real's picture

You have got to be kidding......

<em><strong>Stupid can't be fixed. We can only vote him out</strong></em>


I recommend you find like-minded charitable groups and resources to support your initiative.

Please spend your energy raising funds and facilities from the private / corporate sector. Let the market decide if the art and artists you plan to showcase will garner a group of patrons and customers to make your concepts and projects worthwhile.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND taking a political initiative to try and pry loose our (over)tax(-ed) resources in this extraordinary environment. I suspect it will prove again.... and remain quite a steep uphill battle.

[quote= TAX FOR ARTS]<em>Revenues from the allocation would be used for the arts and cultural organizations and <strong>other community development initiatives deemed appropriate</strong>.</em> [/quote]

Not to put too fine a point on it....
Who does the "deeming"...??

Your "plans" and "possibles" for this tax revenue sound much more like some hoity-toity off-the-books slush fund -- than a well-defined pathway forward.

You want to open the effort with salaries and operating funds-- without really having defined goals and specific projects in mind????

Ummmm..... NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take a hint.

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