The Arts World Contributes to the TreasuryI would like to...


March 19, 1995

The Arts World Contributes to the Treasury

I would like to know if Congress has ever taken a study to determine how much money is paid into the Treasury as a direct and indirect result of the "arts" institutions in America.

It seems that the Republicans are quick to assume that the arts are costing the federal government too much money, I believe around $167 million.

We know that amounts to less than a dollar per taxpayer and is equal to about .003 percent of the budget. We know that's five times less than one Stealth bomber and about the same as a new tank.

What we don't know is how much money the "arts" bring into the Treasury each year.

Just consider this: In this country there are about 40 full-time professional orchestras and numerous part-time orchestras, as well as countless museums, theaters, operas, ballet companies, summer festivals, etc.

A great many of these benefit from the National Endowment for the Arts by receiving seed money for new programs, matching grants and educational projects.

I wonder how much federal tax is collected from the tens of thousands of artists, musicians, managers, museum workers, stage hands, movers, secretaries, advertisers, box office workers, etc., that these groups employ.

All these people are paying taxes and not collecting welfare or unemployment insurance. The Chicago Symphony, for example, an orchestra of 106 musicians, employs 130 staff members to run the orchestra and its programs.

I recently heard that New York City was concerned that the Joffrey Ballet might move out of New York and New York depends on the income from the "arts" for tax money.

I recall when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was on strike several years ago that many downtown restaurants had to lay off tax-paying workers because their business was down by as much as a third.

How about all the entertainment tax paid on the millions of tickets sold each year?

Then there's the excise tax on gasoline and tires from the millions of miles driven to and from "arts" events, and the hotel tax collected on summer travel to festivals like Tanglewood by the patrons as well as the "artists and workers."

The list of indirect taxes can go on and on if one includes the realty taxes the artists and staffs pay in their states and counties and the tax on purchases they make as a result of being employed in the "arts."

Let's have a study to see how much tax revenue we would lose if art institutions go under because Congress didn't like one or two programs that one or two groups sponsored.

I bet they would find that the "arts" bring in so much revenue that it might be worthwhile doubling to tripling the National Endowment for the Arts budget.

Edward Palanker


Hal Gardner

In 1960, when I was editorial director at WJZ-TV, I received an unexpected phone call from Clifton Daniel, then assistant managing editor (later managing editor) of The New York Times.

He told me that the legendary Times theater critic, Brooks Atkinson, was soon to retire and that R. H. Gardner, The Sun's critic, was one of the candidates being considered as Atkinson's successor.

At that time my uncle, Ernest von Hartz, was a Times editor and had suggested to Daniel that I might be a source of information about Gardner. It happened that not only was Hal a friend, but I was then an occasional theater critic for WJZ, and often called on him for advice.

Daniel kept me on the phone for at least 15 minutes, pressing me for information.

When he had finished, I, aware that The Times' post was the most prestigious in American theater, asked him if Gardner was being seriously considered.

Daniel's answer was, "If he were not being seriously considered, I wouldn't have spent so long on this phone call."

Although Hal did not get the job, The Times' loss was Baltimore's gain. In the ensuing years, he became the symbol of the theater as a vibrant local institution.

Since his retirement, there have been some competent successors, but none with Hal's pervasive influence in Baltimore's theater community.

His recent death saddens all theater buffs, but also reminds us of his immense contribution.

Gwinn Owens



By now it is widely realized that the elimination of the Disability Assistance and Loan Program (DALP) was not only a case of administrative oversight, but also a tragic mistake.

Gov. Parris Glendening maintains that "Maryland simply cannot afford" this program. Yet, as pointed out by The Sun's editorial and other Sun writers, Maryland cannot not afford this program.

The unseen costs would most certainly prove devastating to Maryland's economy: increased uncompensated emergency-room visits, an increase in crime and increase in the homeless people and panhandlers on every corner of our business community.

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