Arts Desk

D.C. Theaters Protest Proposed Council Tax, Look to Yogis for Lessons in Civil Disobedience

taxesThe D.C. Theater Scene (no, not that one) was rocked—rocked!—this week with news of a proposed tax on theaters to help with the city's fiscal woes. Yesterday, Helen Hayes President & CEO Linda Grossman filed a letter with the D.C. Council protesting the move and proposing a hearing where the theater community might voice its strong reservations.

"Over the past two decades, the Washington theatre community has grown to be one of the most vibrant and productive in the United States," said H.H. Board Chairman Victor Shargai told Broadway World. "Although well-intentioned, this proposed tax would threaten that community and the powerful economic engine it fuels," he said.

Washington Stage Guild's Ann Norton was rather more vivid in the note she appends to a petition against the tax: "We are all non-profits," Norton writes; "ticket sales only cover some of our costs, and this tax would in essence 'raise' our ticket prices, making it even harder to put 'butts in seats'...the secret of theatre."

Grossman has also asked leading D.C. theaters to include anti-tax pleas in "curtain speeches" at all upcoming performances.

Meanwhile, D.C. theater activists have taken not Tea Partiers, but yoga enthusiasts as their upstart exemplars. Norton again:

The Cultural Alliance has informed us that the proposal on a yoga tax (Yoga!!) was dismissed because the council was inundated with more than 1500 responses opposed to the tax. Let that be our inspiration. We can easily surpass the yoga folks!!!

Sign the petition here.

Photograph by Matt Dunn

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