I agree we should tax sin for arts, but NEO should first determine how it will be spent

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 08:54.

In the Plain Dealer today there is an article announcing that the Cuyahoga County commissioners have unanimously passed a resolution asking Cuyahoga county voters to approve on the November ballot a $0.30 tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in the county, for 10 years, the $20 million/year proceeds of which would be allocated to arts and culture.The article quotes Community Partnership for Arts and Culture president and CEO Thomas Schorgl as addressing the commissioners in support of this tax, saying it is needed to support county assets that are "life affirming and economy building". While I would actually like to see significant reduction in smoking rates and the life killing impact of smoking on the county, it is certain leadership in this community sees a need to raise money to support the arts and I agree that could have many benefits, including economy building. That said, I do support raising public money for the arts, but I do not believe the framework is in place in this community to spend such money well, and I would like to propose very specific solutions: Dear Peter Lewis and Dear Agnes Gund.

Peter and Agnes each are global leaders of the arts world, with long roots in Cleveland, who Cleveland arts and other leaders constantly turn to for support of their individual agendas, when funding is required. I know them very differently, as remarkable intellects who know arts and their "life affirming and economy building" value as well as any people ever have, and it is that aspect of their core value I seek to bring to this community, as I believe I may. I will personally ask them to help empower the Northeast Ohio arts community, not by seeking their money for the community but by seeking their solution-building expertise, which is undeniable. Throughout their lives, Peter and Aggie have been leaders of the world's greatest arts organizations and initiatives and they have distinctive competencies that do not exist here. It is that uniqueness we must bring to the leadership of NEO going forward.

My position is that the problem with the arts in NEO is that our community of leaders need such unique and authentic personal capabilities as Peter and Agnes may bring to our visioning and planning for the next seven generation. I do not believe Northeast Ohio leaders should ask them to provide personal funding for this, but time, creativity and intelligence supporting long term strategic planning at our core – we need to learn to fish in a global ocean rather than continue to churn the same murky waters. This is in fact a far more costly request to make of two of the world's most in-demand people, so I consider this proposal to demand great sacrifice of them, and I do.

Before this community should endorse a sin tax to fund arts and culture, we need a plan for delivering worthy outcomes, beyond matching taxes dollars with private donations. We need the type of vision that has lead to PS1 and Christo in the park and the Gehry at Weatherhead. I will contact Dear Peter and Dear Agnes for this role in this community and keep you posted.

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Norm nails it again

You are so right on this Norm. The last time we had a ballot issue on the arts we had the same vague line of BS from our "arts leaders" or the front man they hired. The arts were presented as they have been here -- as something that is good for you -- like castor oil. But this castor oil we are not being encouraged to take by our mothers, rather we are either being asked either to smoke and foot the bill, or we can relax and know that others are killing themselves for the arts.

The arts are integral to learning and problem solving. Young children need creative play opportunities to develop early on basic critical thinking skills. As thinking beings, we need to experiment, to discover the boundaries of our own beings and this is what the arts help us to accomplish. Further, the arts are communication. I am not saying that we all see each work of art in the same way, that it communicates to everyone the same message as that would indicate that we are all the same. However, dance, music, the visual arts, literature, architecture and design are venues for cross cultural communication that we need to enrich as we move into a global existence.

We read and hear daily about the need for an innovation zone in our region. I concur -- our schools need to be the incubators of that innovation zone. Children need to be taught about the world via the arts. And as we become older children (read -- adults) we need to continue to explore ourselves and our world with the help of our colleagues who are driven to create.

Artists' works are all around us. All the manmade accoutrements of life have been touched by an artist. You may think of them as industrial designers, but they are artists all the same. Our architects and urban planners must be artists; our business leaders, too need the arts.

So before we make a plan for another morality tax (this fundamentalist thing is getting way out of hand), it seems altogether prudent for us to consider, spell out, present to the public the plan for spending said funds. I truly believe that this lack of a coherent publicized spending plan was what hindered the last ballot issue.

I am surprised that the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture does not have a plan in their back pockets that they have prepared over the past 9 years. At their website you can discover that "Northeast Ohio's Arts & Culture Plan was released in May of 2000 and CPAC was charged with its specified implementation, management and evaluation." But when you search those words and get to the page that mentions the 2000 plan, it is not available online There is this note however; "For pricing information or for general inquiries, please contact Megan Van Voorhis, Director of Research and Business Practices, at 216 575 0331 or via email at mlv [at] cpacbiz [dot] org." Maybe someone would be so kind as to inquire, get the plan, post it and see if it suits the arts community today, before we launch another campaign.

Having Peter and Agnes take a look seems appropriate, too.

As to morality taxes, I say legalize drugs and prostitution and tax the hell out of them.
How about carbon emissions taxes?

Oh yes, and Marjorie Talalay

Your post about Paul Dacey and the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art takes me back and forward... back to the New Gallery and Nina Sundell and Marjorie Talalay...  many great collectors and artists in what I remember to be a vibrant time in the arts of my childhood - the late '60s and the '70s, when so many were really excited about collecting, many Cleveland artists were really hitting big on the global scene... perhaps the grass just looks greener in the rear-view mirror but perhaps there's something we lost that we need to find again, taking me forward....

You reminded my I talked for quite a while at my parents' Christmas party this year with Marjorie Talalay and asked if she would be willing to help champion some rejuvination of the visual arts here and she is cool with that. She said she is active with a dance group, which I believe is Groundworks (Susan,  what do you know about Groundworks... they are performing at Ingenuity July 15th... and have a very funky website here) and she is still interested in contempoary art. So to Agnes and Peter we need to add Dear Marjorie. To whom else can we turn back to help lead forward in this space?

Looking back, to look forward....

The Turning Point:
Art and Politics in Nineteen Sixty-eight

On December 7, 1968 two newcomers to Cleveland, Nina Castelli Sundell and Marjorie Talalay, established an enterprise which was to become one of the City's important and distinguished cultural institutions.

Originally called The New Gallery, it was situated on Euclid Avenue in a modest store front. In 1974, two years after moving to a turn-of-the-century house on Bellflower Road in University Circle, the Gallery changed its status to a not-for-profit institution, to more effectively pursue its primary educational objectives. Ten years later, to aptly project its role in the community it was renamed the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art.

From the outset it was the goal of the founders to present work perceived to be on the "cutting edge" of contemporary art. It is gratifying to note how many of today's acclaimed artists who emerged on the national art scene at the end of the 60s or the beginning of the 70s had one of their earliest solo exhibitions in Cleveland, at the New Gallery.

The Center's educational activities have ranged from hands-on workshops for inner city students, to outreach programs in the community, and to the publication of scholarly exhibition catalogues. A prestigious Fall Lecture Series has become an eagerly awaited annual event.

Last October the Center added a large satellite space in the spectacular new downtown Galleria at Erieview. It now presents a full season of exhibitions and events from two key locations: University Circle and downtown Cleveland the cultural and the commercial hubs of the city. To date, over 150,000 persons have visited the Center's Galleria space.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees it is a privilege and pleasure to congratulate Marjorie Talalay, the Center's Director and Nina Sundell, Honorary Trustee, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary year of the Center. Their curatorial expertise, boundless energy and professional dedication have served to provide this community with the opportunity to experience the challenging intellectual and aesthetic excitement of today's art created by today's artists.

Further, I would like to recognize the loyal and generous support of my fellow Trustees and numerous other individuals, corporations and foundations who have demonstrated their belief in the importance of providing Cleveland with a forum for the new and experimental in the visual arts.

No doubt I express the sentiment of founders and supporters by looking forward to a future of increased cultural services to the community.

Anita D. Cosgrove,
The Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art

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History of New Gallery

I'm doing a bit more research on the New Gallery and am shocked there is no history or acknowledgement of the roots of MoCA at their website... they do not understand the importance of the past, to the future. Here, at a different site, we see Agnes Gund was also a founder of The New Gallery, along with Marjorie and Nina Castelli Sundell... now that is a powerhouse team to lead the arts in NEO, looking back. The gap in understanding of the past must be addressed now, before moving forward!

(Admission is only Free on Fridays. Admission for children under 12-years-old is always Free)

  • Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Thursdays’ hours are extended to 8:00 p.m.). However, please note that the museum occasionally closes earlier than the posted times for special events. Parking costs may apply.
  • Location: 8501 Carnegie Avenue · Cleveland, OH 44105
  • Phone: 216-421-8671   

The Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art displays four seasons of exhibitions per year. It emphasizes progressive ideas that embrace a full spectrum of artistic issues, including vital political and social issues. Its wide-array of programs reflect cultural and artistic diversity celebrating national and international artistic achievements as well as contributions by regional artists.

Founded in 1968 as The New Gallery by Marjorie Talalay, Agnes Gund and Nina Castelli Sundell, the New Gallery became the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art in 1984. In 1990, the Center found its current 23,000 square-foot home in the former Sears building, which is part of the Cleveland Playhouse complex.

The Center has published approximately 50 scholarly exhibition catalogues receiving national recognition. And can be found at major art libraries and university and retail bookstores nationwide and abroad.

Printout: Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

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Cleveland Play House 3 words

The Cleveland Play House
It is 3 words.
It is confusing.
They grit their teeth when it is spelled like the downtown theaters as in "Playhouse Square".

I stand corrected. Let us all remember... Schorgl's staff forgot; so did MOCAs...and they live there...oops

Seven generation dance

Seven Generation planning for the arts. Which will exist in 150 years? What to fund with the sin tax?

Artists... yes
Musicians... yes
Dancers... yes

Where do we put the sin tax money? I say nurturing seven generations of artists, musicians and dancers... paying for direct lifelong art education... public art and performance... art supplies and support services... problem solving... sounds like the Pollock/Krasner foundation...

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s mission is to aid, internationally, those individuals who have worked as artists over a significant period of time. The Foundation’s dual criteria for grants are recognizable artistic merit and financial need, whether professional, personal or both.

History of the Grant Program

The Foundation is pleased to report that since its inception in 1985, it has awarded 2,747 grants totaling over 40 million dollars to artists in 66 countries.

That is my suggestion.

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Economics and the Arts

I am all for things that support the arts. I still think the "arts" should be looked at more as business in this region and it might get some respect. The info below is from the CPAC site.

Strengthens our Economy
Arts and cultural organizations provide nearly 4,000 jobs in the region and generate $1.3 billion in regional economic activity.  Visitors to a sampling of organizations in Cuyahoga County alone generate $59 million in gross regional product, and sustain over 2000 jobs outside of the arts and culture sector.

If the Arts provides this much economic value to the community, then it should not even be a question of whether or not we wish to support it.

Look at the support for the other things in this region (IT, urban development, biosciences, etc.). True they provide jobs, but it is still odd that we don't support an "industry" that generates 1.3 billion in regional economic activity.

Is it because it is called an "art" and not a business?


Alex P. Michaels

    A Branded Entertainment Company


So spend $20 million for 10 years...

But how would you divide $20 million a year for 10 years and perhaps more important who would you have divide the $20 million up for the arts. How much goes to all the struggling arts organizations that create those 4,000 jobs and $1.3 billion - the foundations and CEOs can't do it alone anymore - like the Beck Center, Play House, Cleveland Orchestra, Red Orchestra, Cleveland Opera, Dancing Wheels, Access the the Arts, Music Settlement, Playhouse Square, Ideacenter, Sparx in the City, Groundworks, Cleveland Institute of Art, MoCA, Film Commission, CPAC, 1300, *, Cleveland Public Art, School for the Arts, Cleveland Public Schools, East Cleveland schools, Westlake Schools, Lakewood schools, other city schools, each city's little theaters, church art galleries and education programs, all denominations, other galleries, experimental theaters, artists themselves... film, dance, music, painters... how do you decide who gets what? That isn't theoretical but must be determined - ideally before asking sinners to pay for it, unless the belief is that there aren't many smoking voters so they don't need to sell the tax to anyone. But for what, decided by whom?

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