For those new to the current fight over the City of Cleveland’s admission tax on music venues, the short version is this: The City’s 8% tax is threatening the livelihood of several smaller music clubs including The Beachland Ballrom, Brother’s Lounge, Now That’s Class, Peabody’s and The Happy Dog. In response, the owner’s of these venues formed a group, the Cleveland Music Club Coalition, in order to better coordinate lobbying efforts and to educate the public as to why this issue is so important to the future of live music in town.
Yesterday, the first signs of progress emerged when Councilman Joe Cimperman tweeted, “City lgsltn 2nd intro’d giving musical venues a break: 1st 200 tickets exempt from tax, allows @brothers @happydog @beachlandtavern 2breathe.”
For those not versed in tweet-speak, let me translate. Council has heard your calls and are working on legislation that would lessen the tax burden for small venues, exempting the first 200 tickets sold from the 8% tax.
Obviously, if the admission tax rate is zero for venues with a capacity under 200, those venues would no longer owe the City of Cleveland admissions tax dollars. This would provide cover for The Happy Dog, Brother’s, Now That’s Class. The math gets a little trickier for a venue like the Beachland who has one room which falls under the 200 barrier (The Tavern) and a second, larger room (The Ballroom) which can pack in over 500 attendees. For a sold out show the effective tax rate would be around 5%. On a night when the Ballroom is at half capacity, the effective rate would be around 1.5%.
This is definitely a step in the right direction.
UPDATE: As Beachland co-owner, Cindy Barber indicated in the comments section, three council members — Joe Cimperman, Michael Poelnsek, and Matt Zone, are now looking to introduce a more robust exemption, where clubs under 1,000 capacity who have live music at least three times a week would be spared from the admissions tax. This could happen as early as Monday.