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CAC Trustees Approve a Resolution Requesting November Tax Levy to Fund Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Through 2035 

Replacement Levy Could Generate $160M Over 10 Years, Expand Public Investment in Hundreds of Nonprofit Arts Organizations 

LAND Studio - Photo by Bob Perkoski

CLEVELAND (April 29, 2024) – Today, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Board of Trustees approved a resolution to Cuyahoga County Council requesting a tax levy be placed on the November 2024 ballot to replace and expand CAC’s dedicated tax resource. 

The resolution, approved unanimously by CAC’s Trustees in a public meeting, formally requests that Cuyahoga County Council submit the question of the replacement levy to Cuyahoga County voters at the November 5, 2024 general election. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s sole revenue source is a tax on cigarettes sold in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The tax would continue to provide public funding for the operations of Cuyahoga County’s arts and cultural nonprofits. 

As outlined in the resolution, the current tax of 15 mills (1½ cents) per cigarette sold in Cuyahoga County would be replaced with a tax of 35 mills (3 ½ cents) per cigarette. The tax would begin on February 1, 2025, for a duration of 10 years. The new levy could generate an estimated $160 million over the next 10 years, increasing levels of support after years of steady decline in CAC funding. 

Karolyn Isenhart, President of CAC’s Board of Trustees, said it is important to continue public funding for the arts because it has been transformational for Cuyahoga County’s arts and cultural nonprofits. “We are taking an important step toward continued investment in our County’s nonprofit arts sector,” she said. “The impact of CAC’s grantmaking over the past 18 years is extraordinary. CAC has made more than 3,000 grants, totaling over $246 million in tax dollars, to more than 485 organizations. I look forward to what we can accomplish next.” 

Jill M. Paulsen, CAC’s Executive Director, said the resolution is more than simply a procedural step. “This is a reminder that we have a unique opportunity to preserve and grow this vital resource for the future of our local arts nonprofits, and the residents they benefit. Arts and culture are for everyone – and CAC funding helps make millions of creative experiences possible each year.” 

CAC revenues have declined by more than 50% since it was created in 2006. While anticipated – as fewer cigarettes are sold each year – revenues continue to decline at faster rates than expected, reducing the funds available for grants to the nearly 300 nonprofits CAC funds each year. 

Pending approval by Cuyahoga County Council, Assembly for Action, an independent local 501c4, will launch a campaign effort for the tax levy. As a public agency, CAC does not engage in campaign activities; its role is to provide information regarding its grantmaking and the stewardship of its public resource. 

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is a regional arts and cultural district and a political subdivision of the state. Established by voters in 2006, CAC is the largest arts and culture funder in the region. To date CAC has made over 3,000 grants, totaling over $246M in tax dollars, to more than 485 organizations serving County residents. 


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