Monday, September 28, 2009

The Symphony (and more) Ask You to Lend a Voice

From the Allentown Symphony:

The state of Pennsylvania has finally reached a budget deal, but with a cost to arts and culture. Included in the budget proposed by Governor Rendell is a provision to extend Pennsylvania’s 6% state sales tax to include concert and theatre tickets, dance and performing arts events, museums, historical sites, zoos and parks. The impetus for this action is that the revenue generated from these taxes could result in long term funding for the arts and cultural sector. However, sports and movies, which are known to be big revenue generators, are able to keep their tax exemptions in Pennsylvania.

Allentown Symphony Association (ASA) reaches 55,000 people each year including 14,130 children through its educational programming. This year, in a difficult economy the ASA decided to keep ticket prices the same and increase the number of events offered, giving the ASA the opportunity to see an increase in ticket sales and patron involvement. Under this proposed budget ticket prices will go up placing an additional burden on our patrons, but the extra money will go to the State with the promise of ‘some’ of the funds being used to fund arts program and the State keeps the rest. No more information than this has been shared with the organizations that will be affected!

Pennsylvania is also threatening to eliminate its Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC), a program that encourages area businesses to fund educational programs, defined by law to be “innovative” educational programs. Allentown Symphony has six curriculum based programs that would be negatively affected by the loss of these EITC funding m including Musicians in Schools, Musical Treasure Chest, Master Classes, Instrument Petting Zoo, the Arts Walk, and City Arts Camp.

Finally, the lack of State funding for the arts is impacting and ultimately reducing the level of funding support from the County of Lehigh. The negative impact of these changes are still unknown, however, they will certainly affect operations and education. Most Pennsylvania arts organizations have already taken drastic staffing cuts.
Allentown Symphony Association offers reasonably priced tickets to all of its symphonic concerts, the new Met: LIVE HD series, and all educational programs are offered at little or no cost to schools in an effort to be accessible and invest in our Lehigh Valley community. These community educational opportunities should not be weighed down with increased admission costs due to a new sales tax inclusion.
I am writing to ask you to help the Allentown Symphony Association and arts and culture in the Lehigh Valley by writing to your state representative and addressing this important issue

Here is what you can do:Using the contact information at the bottom of this email, call in or e-mail the following message:

Hello, my name is _____________, and as a resident of Lehigh/Northampton/______ county, I’m contacting you in opposition to an expansion of the state sales tax to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in order to balance the FY10 state budget. In these tough economic times, increased ticket prices only tax working families out of arts and cultural venues such as concerts, museums, and parks. Interestingly, sports and movies – which are huge revenue generators in 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 __________bring this message to caucus leadership before the budget is signed into law.

Your help in keeping Arts and Culture in our community affordable and accessible is greatly appreciated.

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