2013-07-03 / News

Legislators pass bill to exempt sales tax on art

The state General Assembly has given the green light to a statewide sales-tax exemption on the purchase and sale of original art, which passed after the Senate approved the final version of the fiscal year 2014 budget.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. President Teresa Paiva Weed, was introduced earlier in the year in the form of legislation. It recognizes that the arts are a valuable economic tool and can help increase tourism, job creation and the revitalization of communities and local entrepreneurship. Lawmakers removed from the budget a sunset clause that would have ended the exemption in March 2015.

According to a conservative estimate by Americans for the Arts, there are 3,248 arts-related businesses in Rhode Island registered with Dun & Bradstreet. These businesses employ 13,445 workers.

The total does not include nonprofit groups not registered.

“The arts are a powerful and growing economic engine for our state,” said Paiva Weed, who represents Jamestown and Newport. “Rhode Island artists help to create jobs within creative industries, support tourism and enhance auxiliary industries such as design and visual arts, which are critical for the success of the state’s knowledge economy. Further positioning Rhode Island as a state of the arts will help us to build upon the economic success of the creative sector.”

In February, Paiva Weed was joined by Gov. Lincoln Chafee and House Speaker Gordon Fox in hosting the first Rhode Island arts charrette. The event brought the arts community together with leaders in government, business and academia to discuss ways to make Rhode Island a state of the arts. The statewide arts district was among the ideas discussed at the charrette.

Rhode Island also plays host to one of America’s finest arts schools, the Rhode Island School of Design. It is the belief of that the newly approved initiative will help the state retain the valuable talents of the school’s graduates.

“Other states don’t have this incredible resource to tap into,” said Rep. Donna Walsh, who co-sponsored the bill. “We want RISD students to stay, create and make their dreams come alive in our state. This exemption is rooted in the example set by our experimental arts districts already in existence. The popularity of these districts has grown because our cities and towns recognize the benefits of incorporating artists and galleries into the patchwork of our image.”

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