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Opportunity to Expand Public Funding for Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Approved by Cuyahoga County Council 

Voters Will Have Option to Expand CAC Tax with Replacement Levy on November 5, 2024 Election 

LAND Studio - Photo by Bob Perkoski

CLEVELAND (June 4, 2024) – Today, Cuyahoga County Council unanimously approved a resolution that provides residents the opportunity to approve a tax levy to replace and expand CAC’s dedicated tax resource at the November 5, 2024 General Election. The resolution was sponsored by Council President Pernel Jones, Jr. on behalf of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Cheryl L. Stephens, Dale Miller, Meredith M. Turner, Yvonne M. Conwell, Martin J. Sweeney, and Sunny M. Simon.

As approved, the levy question replaces the current tax of 15 mills (1½ cents) per cigarette sold in Cuyahoga County with a tax of 35 mills (3½ 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. 

Cuyahoga County Council President Pernel Jones, Jr. offered his support: “The arts are an essential part of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our community’s spirit,” he said. “We are pleased to give residents the opportunity to vote on expanded public funding for our arts community, making for a more vibrant Cuyahoga County for all.” 

Karolyn Isenhart, President of CAC’s Board of Trustees, thanked Cuyahoga County Council for providing voters the option to increase support for Cuyahoga County’s arts and cultural nonprofits. “We are grateful to each member of Cuyahoga County Council for their leadership and support,” she said. “CAC funding is supporting nonprofits, jobs, and creative experiences that are for everyone in Cuyahoga County. We now have an opportunity to expand and connect even more people to exceptional arts & culture over the next ten years.” 

Jill M. Paulsen, CAC’s Executive Director, underscored the importance of this funding for all residents. “CAC funds more than 300 nonprofits bringing arts and culture to residents in every community in Cuyahoga County,” she said. “The impact of expanded funding for these organizations would help sustain operations and programs that provide millions of creative experiences for residents each year.” 

A resolution requesting that County Council put the replacement levy on the November ballot was unanimously approved by CAC’s Board of Trustees at its April public meeting. 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. 

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 precipitously, reducing the funds available for grants to the nearly 300 nonprofits CAC funds each year. 

In the coming weeks, 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, the stewardship of its public resource, and educate the public on the importance of public funding. 

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 $247M in tax dollars, to more than 485 organizations serving County residents. 


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