If you were in a Washington theatre last night, chances are you heard, announced in a curtain speech, that the D. C. Council is proposing to levy a tax on theatre tickets – a move which will undoubtedly be passed on to audiences in the form of higher prices at the box office. A Council hearing could come as early as next week, and would be held without input from the community, according to Washington Stage Guild Board member Bob Sacheli at last night’s performance of The Best of Friends.
To voice the communities’ opposition to this tax, The Helen Hayes Awards is organizing a petition drive, which we urge all readers to immediately consider. The petition is open to everyone. You don’t need to be a D.C. resident. It’s a simple statement, is easy to complete, and takes only a few minutes. Here’s the link.
Below is the Helen Hayes Awards press release, with more details.
May 13, 2010 – Washington, D.C. – The Helen Hayes Awards, which for the past 26 years has supported and promoted live, professional theatre in Greater Washington, today called on the D.C. Council to reject a proposed new tax on theatre tickets. The organization also announced that it has formed a coalition of Washington theatres, other businesses, and theatregoers to vigorously oppose such a tax.
In a letter to the D.C. Council, Helen Hayes Awards President & CEO Linda Levy Grossman, Chairman Victor Shargai, and Vice Chairman Glen Howard, asked the Council either to drop its plans for the tax or, failing that, to hold a hearing at which representatives of the Washington theatre and business communities would be allowed to testify about the adverse economic impact such a tax would have on the District.
“Over the past two decades, the Washington theatre community has grown to be one of the most vibrant and productive in the United States,” said Helen Hayes Awards Board Chairman Victor Shargai. “Although well-intentioned, this proposed tax would threaten that community and the powerful economic engine it fuels,” he said.
According to Vice Chairman Glen Howard, the Helen Hayes Awards has “formed a broad coalition determined to defeat the theatre tax on the basis of solid economic facts.” He added, “Once the Council focuses on the unintended, but harmful, economic consequences of such a tax, we’re confident that it too will see the wisdom of rejecting it.”
Helen Hayes Awards President & CEO Linda Levy Grossman said that theatregoers will also be part of the coalition. “We have asked the leadership of Washington theatres to make ‘curtain speeches’ at every performance to let their audiences know what the Council is considering and to ask them to sign an online petition opposing the tax,” she said. “The theatres will also ask audience members to contact their Councilmembers and Mayor Fenty to let them know about their opposition.”
Shargai said that the Helen Hayes Awards are also asking that the Council hold a public hearing at which members of the theatre community are invited to testify. “The proposal so far has been considered without any input from Washington theatres, theatregoers, or others who would be harmed by the theatre tax,” he said. “That’s not what we would have expected from our city officials and it’s definitely not what the theatre community, which has played such an important role in D.C.’s growth and vitality, deserves.”