Cuyahoga County Arts & Culture Groups Split $27-million in Cigarette Tax Revenues

The Cleveland Orchestra won the highest CAC grant this year (PHOTO: ROGER MASTROIANNI)
The Cleveland Orchestra won the highest CAC grant this year (PHOTO: ROGER MASTROIANNI)
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Cuyahoga Arts and Culture awardees cover a broad swath of cultural activities and players, ranging from more than three-million dollars in operating support that the Cleveland Orchestra will receive over a two-year grant, to the 59-hundred for a special music therapy project by the east suburban group Family Connections. Cuyahoga County has gotten high marks across the country for it's support of arts and culture through a 30-cents-a-pack tax on cigarettes. That local funding exceeds arts support in cities such as San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston, according to a study this year by the University of Chicago. But, County cigarette tax revenues have declined ever since the tax was instituted nearly ten years ago. CAC Executive Director Karen Gahl-Mills says this year's drop is steeper than usual.

KAREN GAHL-MILLS: We had projected from the very beginning that revenues would decrease six and a half to seven percent a year, and that didn't actually happen --- it decreased more slowly for the first five years of our existence. This is the year we saw a more significant decrease, and we have to make adjustments to our grantmaking because of it.

The grants for this year's cycle add-up to about a six-and-a-half percent cut from the previous round. Despite that downward trend, proponents expect to mount a campaign to renew the cigarette tax next year.

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