Chicago cracking down on local venues that don’t book ‘live cultural performances’
A number of small (750 or fewer) Chicago music venues, including Beauty Bar, are being antagonized by Cook County because their bookings do not include “live cultural performances.” The county, in turn, is looking to reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, claiming that these venues are not exempt from the three percent tax on cover and ticket fees that other “live theatrical” and “live musical” properties have had the luxury of avoiding.
Bruce Finkelman, a managing partner of Beauty Bar, claims that Cook County has requested at least six years’ worth of amusement taxes, totaling more than $200,000. Meanwhile, Pat Doerr, president of the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, also mentioned that a handful of his venues have fallen victim to the county’s ruthless demands. Each of the establishments have been forced to hire attorneys to represent them in administrative hearings with Cook County.
While it is believed that Cook County has consciously targeted electronic music venues, a hearing officer argued that rock, rap and grunge are also not deemed “fine art” by the county’s standards. According to county code, “fine art” is defined as “any of the disciplines which are commonly regarded as part of the fine arts, such as live theater, music, opera, drama, comedy, ballet, modern or traditional dance, and book or poetry readings.”
David Giron, CFO of restaurant and music venue development company 16″ on Center, suspects that the county is desperate for money and is looking to small music venues as a “potential loophole” for stepping up its funding. Should small music venues one day be subject to the amusement tax, it is predicted that many will go out of business.
Stay tuned to Dancing Astronaut for further updates.