A Massachusetts town known for its out-of-the-box programs and solutions to local and national issues is eyeing the creation of an art tax.
If approved, town-funded construction projects would include an additional fee for the purposes of promoting, creating, acquiring, and maintaining public art in Amherst.
Amherst residents will get a chance to comment on the proposed bylaw on Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m., during the Town Council virtual meeting.
Town Council could vote on the bylaw - the “Percent for Art” bylaw - as soon as Sept. 21, according to a town announcement.
Amherst is already known for its cultural offerings. it has scads of art galleries, murals, museums, and outdoor art installations. It is home to UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College. The Eric Carle Museum is there.
The fee being proposed in Amherst is half a percent - 0.5 percent - of the capital costs of construction projects Amherst is funding either in-whole or in-part. The tax would only be applied to construction projects of $1 million or more.
If the bylaw is approved, a town-funded construction project worth $1 million would result in $5,000 for the local public art fund.
The fund would be managed by the Public Art Commission. Money collected through the art tax would be used to purchase original artworks and could not be used to buy mass-produced equipment such as playgrounds or fountains.
Amherst wouldn't be the first community to have an art tax. Portland, Oregon, has one - an annual $35 fee assessed to residents.
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