February 18, 2014

Columbia mayor tells arts groups their money would be protected

“I was crystal clear earlier when I said (I) would not support any reduction,” Benjamin said during a meeting he requested at the Columbia Museum of Art auditorium with arts groups. “I’d say a super-majority of council feels as I do.”

“Mayor, that’s exactly what we wanted to hear,” said John Whitehead, director of the Columbia Music Festival Association and chairman of a council-appointed committee that doles out about one-third of the $9 million Columbia received in taxes paid by patrons who ate and drank in the city’s restaurants and bars the past fiscal year.

“The H-tax is not an entitlement for the arts,” Whitehead said after Benjamin’s pledge, “but it can exist along with a baseball park.”

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