Cook County, Ill., home to the city of Chicago, just made a pretty controversial ruling. Apparently, the local government is creating their own definition for the word “art” now. According to a new ruling from the county, while music is technically art, genres like rock, country and rap are not. If a venue books an act in this genre, they aren’t eligible for the county’s 3 percent amusement tax break.
Why does this matter so much? Small venues (capacity of 750 max) that host musical concerts have been taking that 3 percent tax break for years. Cook County is now going back six years to penalize venues whose musical acts didn’t qualify as “fine art.” The county will reportedly be seeking some $200,000 from individual venues. Yikes!
Events that do qualify as “fine art” under the county code are live theater, music (well, apparently only some), opera, drama, comedy, ballet, modern or traditional dance, and book or poetry readings.
Understandably, residents and business owners aren’t thrilled with this. Many feel like the rules were all of a sudden changed in an attempt to snatch up more tax money for small businesses. But right now, county officials are standing their ground on the decision.
Don’t expect the controversy over this ruling to blow over any time soon.