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GCP endorses renewal of existing cigarette tax for arts and culture

Cleveland, Ohio - The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) Board of Directors voted to support passage of a November ballot issue calling for the renewal of an existing cigarette tax in Cuyahoga County that generates support for arts and culture.

The renewal would extend for 10 years the current tax of 1.5 cents per cigarette sold in Cuyahoga County. The ballot issue is not a tax increase.

The tax generates more than $15 million annually. Since its inception in 2006, tax proceeds have been used to invest more than $125 million in 300 arts and cultural organizations in Cuyahoga County.

“Greater Cleveland enjoys a much-deserved regional, national and international reputation for the high quality of its arts and cultural offerings,” said Tom Zenty, CEO and President of University Hospitals and chair of the Greater Cleveland Partnership Government Affairs Council. “This existing tax helps us maintain those distinct assets and also assists many smaller community arts groups and local artists throughout the county.”

Cleveland is home to one of the world’s best orchestras and one of the nation’s finest art museums. Playhouse Square is the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City. The city also has a history of supporting neighborhood arts and cultural groups.

Deborah Read, managing partner of Thompson Hine LLP and vice chair of the GCP’s Government Affairs Council said passage of the levy renewal is crucial to maintaining Greater Cleveland’s deep and diverse cultural resources.

“Residents of Cuyahoga County are able to enjoy a wide array of very high quality arts and cultural choices,” Read said. “Visitors to Cleveland are quite often amazed by the extraordinary quality and vastness of our arts. Renewing this existing tax simply helps us maintain and grow our arts and culture on multiple levels.”

Joe Roman, CEO and president of the GCP, one of the nation’s largest chambers of commerce, said the renewal is also important because it provides funds that are used to promote arts and cultural experiences for children.

“The revenues generated by this cigarette tax have a deep and positive reach throughout Cuyahoga County,” Roman said. “Some of these funds are used to place a welcome and special emphasis upon exposing the county’s children to arts and culture. Revenues have been used to help pay for thousands of classes, workshops and field trips for our children as well as hundreds of internships and apprenticeships.”

Paul Dolan, owner of the Cleveland Indians and co-chairman of Arts and Culture Action Committee welcomed the GCP's endorsement of the tax renewal.

"There are a lot of good things going on in Cleveland right now, and we really don't want to do anything that could slow that momentum," Dolan said. "Arts and culture is a huge part of our city. It helps define us.

"Not only do we have esteemed cultural institutions with deep histories but Cleveland also has an appreciation for more local and neighborhood programs. These are all very good qualities that are sustained in part because of this tax that needs to be renewed. "

About the Greater Cleveland Partnership

The Greater Cleveland Partnership mobilizes private-sector leadership, expertise and resources to create attractive business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve the economic prosperity of the region.