Schaefer proposes tax refund check-off for arts

January 24, 1992|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS — ANNAPOLIS--Gov. William Donald Schaefer wants to add a new ingredient to the traditional arts fund-raising recipe of phone-a-thons and mail campaigns: a tax check-off.

Governor Schaefer told leaders in the arts community gathered in Annapolis yesterday that he would push legislation that would allow Marylanders to pledge all -- or part -- of their tax refunds to the arts.

"Some people have said to me that art is really a luxury," he said. "I try to explain to them that art is part of our society. It's an important part of education, an extremely important part of economic development . . . and of our quality of life."

He spoke at the presentation of the report by the Governor's Commission on the Future of the Arts in Maryland, a group of 52 arts, business and community leaders assembled last fall to find new sources of arts funding and to strengthen support for the state's arts programs.

The governor's proposed tax check-off would allow taxpayers to designate portions of their refund checks to the Maryland State Arts Council, the agency which distributes the state's art monies. Those who owe taxes could also pledge money. Mr. Schaefer did not estimate how much money the program might raise.

"It's a very good, cost-effective way to allow people to contribute to the arts," said James Backas, executive director of the arts council.

The governor's commission on the arts, headed by George L. Bunting Jr., former head of Noxell Corp., called for expanding the educational and advocacy roles of the arts council and of the Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the state's premiere private arts advocacy group.

Among other recommendations, the commission report called for LTC the Greater Baltimore Committee, Maryland Chamber of Economic Growth Associates and local chambers of commerce to work with arts leaders to set standards of charitable giving for businesses. The commission proposed that companies should donate at least 15 percent of their charitable contributions to the arts.

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