Tell Harrisburg what you think–pick up the phone

If you’re as frustrated as we are about the new state tariff on art events that we mentioned yesterday, here’s a way you can take action. The following email alert comes from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, providing a simple way for you to take action–just pick up the phone.

From Sarah Cedarburg:

After an 80 day impasse, Governor Rendell and leaders in the General Assembly announced a budget deal Friday evening. Great news, right? Not so fast….
It seems that Governor Rendell and the General Assembly think they can balance a budget on the backs of our region’s arts and culture. For the first time in Pennsylvania, the state sales tax will be applied to tickets for theater, dance and performing arts events, concerts, museums, historical sites, zoos and parks. The word from Harrisburg is that this revenue generated from these taxes could result in long-term funding for our sector. However, sports and movies – which we all know to be big revenue generators – can keep their tax exemptions in Pennsylvania. Why are nonprofit cultural institutions being singled out?
In these tough times, even a small increase in a ticket price can be the deciding factor for a family of four looking to spend an afternoon at the Philadelphia Zoo or the Museum of Art. A tax will decrease the affordability of Philadelphia’s myriad cultural attractions – and hurt organizations who are already seeing a decline in admissions and revenue.
If Harrisburg is serious about looking for long-term solutions to fund arts and culture – then we should be invited to the table. Let’s band together to let our legislators know we think a sales tax on nonprofit cultural institutions is shortsighted – and that we want an invitation to the converstion. Once the budget agreement is drafted into legislation, we’ll only have a ten day window – so the time to act is not tomorrow, but NOW.
Here’s what you can do:
•    Step 1: Find the Harrisburg office phone number (look for the 717 area code) for both your state senator and representative using our handy Legislator Lookup.
•    Step 2: Need some help with your message? Use the following call script:
Hello, my name is ________, and as a resident of _______, I’m calling in opposition to an expansion of the state sales tax on the backs of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in order to balance the FY10 state budget. In these tough economic times, increases on ticket prices only taxes out working families out of theaters, museums, and zoos. Interestingly, sports and movies – which are huge revenue generators for Pennsylvania – remain exempt from the tax. This doesn’t seem right. I think that those of us who work in, or support these nonprofit institutions in our region should be a part of the conversation on long-term solutions for cultural funding. I ask that Senator/Representative _________ brings this message to caucus leadership before the budget is signed into law.


If you want to take the process a step further and have time to lobby someone in person, here’s the next step:

•    Step 3: Once you’ve delivered the above message, ask if you can meet with your legislator in person to deliver the same message. Need some help in preparing for a meeting? Email with any questions – and please report your call and if you’ve scheduled a visit to the same address.
…We can’t let our legislators get away with a last ditch effort to close the state budget. Governor Rendell should know better – he laid the foundation of Greater Philadelphia’s artistic and cultural renaissance through projects like the Avenue of the Arts. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations aren’t in the business for profits – but to provide quality, affordable programming for all members of the community. We can’t tax those opportunities away.

(If you’re not already registered on the GPCA site for legislative action alerts, you might want to do that. Log in to create an account here).