Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Taxing Tickets is Strangling Show Business

In Richmond there's a problem most people don't even know exists. Understanding it isn't so easy because it's about what isn't happening.
How many cool night clubs didn’t open? How many big trade shows chose a city other than Richmond? How many touring rock ‘n’ roll acts skipped Richmond? How many companies didn’t move here? How many jobs never materialized?

While no one can answer those thorny questions with any certainty, they need to be asked. That’s because part of what stopped those things from happening remains an obstacle. It is still acting to stifle the entertainment industry in Richmond.

"It" is the seven percent tax The City of Richmond extracts from every dollar for an admission ticket that changes hands within its boundaries.
Click here to read a righteous rant against the local admission tax at Richmond.com.


Scott said...

The blue bloods will make sure that the admission tax will be doen away with for at least Center Stage by the time it opens.

F.T. Rea said...


I can tell you that this move did not start with CenterStage, or any big shots. That's because I've been in on what has gotten it started. So far, we do have one member of city council in our group.

There will be news about who is going to do what next week. If blue bloods want to get on the bandwagon, that will be fine with me.

HEK said...

Terry, if this actually happens -- either severe reduction of or abolition of the admissions tax -- I'll be astonished. The counter intuitive nature of such an instrument is fairly plain. As the former president remarked, this isn't rocket surgery.

paul_h said...

It's a page out of the republican playbook. Lower taxes, increase revenue.

You're right, it's not rocket surgery.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

Drat! Yes, I admit it -- I've been embedded in the counter culture since the '60s. Now you've unmasked me. I'm a secret Republican.

paul_h said...

I did not say you were a Republican. I hope your counter culter friends will understand.

F.T. Rea said...


It will be my pleasure to astonish you. But when you write, "The counter intuitive nature of such an instrument is fairly plain," I don't follow your meaning.

paul_h said...


I still don't think you've made your case. The republican dig was not a slam, they believe cutting taxes stimulates growth. You present the same proposition.

Elsewhere you state most cities in Virginia have this same tax, but the counties don't. Except for movies, most entertainment venues continue to be in the city.

Austin and Nashville have established music scenes and reputations that outstrip tax issues. Charlottesville has UVA and the best indoor venue in the state, paid for by the state. Given similar venues we would get similar shows.

Lastly, you are trying to prove a negative, which as you say is impossible to do.

Two million from the city budget is nothing to sneeze at and impossible to replace in the short term. That may be the issue that kills this whatever its merits.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

The problem with arguing with you is that you could hardly care less when you don't know what you're talking about. This time is worse than the baseball stadium issue, in that you haven't the foggiest what you're talking about.

Do you really believe the state paid for the JPJ Center?

Hey, I could go on, but I won't, because it's tiring putting up with your silly attempts to start feuds over whatever I support.

No reply necessary.

paul_h said...

It is just like you to never respond to criticism and only attack the messenger.

You pick out 4 words out of 100 and dismiss the rest.

How about a dialog instead of a feud? I haven't dismissed your idea. If I have questions, maybe other readers do too.

You invite people into you home and then insult them. If that really mattered to me I'd stay home, but this ostensibly is a public forum. If you don't like the company, then lock the door.

F.T. Rea said...


The insult, if that's what it was, came on the heels of scores of comments you have made at SLANTblog, many of which have been silly and or obnoxious.

SLANTblog is not my home. The fact that I allow comments at this blog is not an open invitation to you, or anyone else, to be a pest.

Surely you have better things to do than bother me. Please stop.

HEK said...

Terry, what I meant was that the admissions tax is counter intuitive. Particularly these days. And, if memory serves, wasn't the admissions tax supposedly "temporary" when it was created? Something deep inside my head is telling me this. Maybe it's just an echo.

F.T. Rea said...


Sam Benheim, who was the general manager of Neighborhood Theaters -- like his father before him -- told me long ago it started as a two percent tax during WWII; the money went to war bonds.

After the war ended The City decided to keep the dough because nobody would miss it. Then ,over the decades, the percentage taken out crept up.

When I was at the Biograph it was six percent.

So, it's been a long time since we started down the wrong road. I doubt anyone on city council has even thought about the problems such a tax can cause for a long time.

Now that is changing.