Sunday, March 08, 2009

Dead or alive?

I had assumed this would just be DOA, but actual confirmation of its axing seems slow in coming.

Dress it up with whatever surveys you like, but any change in the multibillion dollar federal tax subsidy to the arts (that is, any cut to the deductibility of private contributions) would be devastating to the opera world. It's either amusing or horrifying that fans are making nary a peep after going ballistic over the possible non-materialization of a much smaller-scale handout last month. In any case, if this proposal actually passes we'll all feel the effects.


  1. It's deeply disconcerting that the arts are allowed to exist as long as they help the rich stay that way.

  2. But what art it is! I think it's worth giving the Varises and other donors a tax break if it means I can get a $20 orchestra seat, or that the Met can afford to fly in Rene Pape and Waltraud Meier. Who will step up if some patrons decline to give money if this bill passes? The community organizers?

    I enjoy adding up the deductible portion of my Ring Cycle and 125th anniversary gala tickets on that Schedule A. And the Met definitely doesn't help me stay rich. Quite the opposite, actually.

  3. "It's deeply disconcerting that the arts are allowed to exist as long as they help the rich stay that way."

    Very well said, though I don't see what it has to do with the post. A cut-back in charitable deductions for the "rich" (or, in NYC or any other major metropolitan area, middle class people who don't have subsidized housing) will not in any meaningful way affect their personal wealth, except in unusual cases. Instead, the lost deductions will show up in the form of fewer/smaller charitable gifts, exacerbating a problem that began with the recent financial collapse and serious drop-off in corporate charitable giving.

    Obama's people have defended the proposal on the premise that it affects only 1.2% of taxpayers. Without challenging that number, it's pretty clear that those are also the people make much of the (maybe most?) charitable gifts.

    But by now it looks like this proposal -- if not DOA -- is probably DAA.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.