Cleveland Cigarette Tax funds Arts Programs!

This just in from the Who Knew Department. (And thanks, Arts Journal for the heads up.

Artblog Synopsis: Cleveland, OH, passed a cigarette tax a year ago with the intent of capturing that revenue and using it to fund the arts — how enlightened is that???!!! Now, they’ve got $15 million to distribute to 68 arts organizations, and they have $500,000 earmarked as funding available to individual artists! Michael Nutter and company are you listening? Let’s do this here! I know it can’t be simple to get a new city tax implemented (how DO you do that anyway?) But a 1.5 cent municipal tax on each cigarette is good social policy anyway, so I say be bold, do it for the good of all of us and also for the good of the arts!

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Cuyahoga Arts and Culture prepares to distribute cigarette tax funds
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Karen Sandstrom
Plain Dealer Reporter

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture will distribute $15 million to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in each of the next three years.

Officials for the agency, which was created to administer the cigarette tax approved by Cuyahoga County voters last year, say they expect the tax will draw $19 million this year and next year and about $17.5 million in 2009.


That’s a bit short of the $20 million that had been touted during the campaign for the tax, but executive director Catherine Boyle said a recent state law banning smoking in public places already has lowered cigarette sales. The agency is predicting about a 7 percent annual decline in cigarette-tax revenues, levied at 1.5 cents per cigarette, for the foreseeable future.

Sixty-eight organizations qualified for three years of operational support during a public review in October. The first checks will go out in January. Dollar amounts are based on budget size, with proportionately more money going to smaller organizations.

For example, Joyful Noise, which provides musical instruments and lessons to children in the city of Cleveland, will receive $5,954. The grant constitutes about 25 percent of Joyful Noise’s current annual budget of $23,374.


The Cleveland Orchestra, which has a budget of more than $38 million, will receive about $1.8 million, or 5 percent.

All grant recipients and the dollar awards are listed at

Trustees are attempting to distribute as much of the tax as possible, while reserving about $1 million a year for individual-project grants. Another $500,000 a year probably will be set aside for grants to individual artists, although trustees have yet to determine guidelines for those.

Administrative costs consume 4 percent to 5 percent of the tax annually, Boyle said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4810