American towns are attempting using a social ill to create something positive.
In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, citizens have employed a unique approach toward funding the arts. Three years ago, they approved of taxes from the sale of cigarettes being used to create initiatives for arts and culture. Adding 34.5 cents to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, Cuyahoga Count raised nearly $20 million a year to be distributed as competitive grants through the group Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
Taking its cue from Cuyahoga’s example, Summit County is now pushing for the same usage of cigarette taxes. Mitchell Kahan, director and chief executive of the Akron Art Museum, says:
Arts and culture is a vital segment of the economy that is historically underfunded in Summit County. To remain competitive with other counties in the state and neighboring states, we need to have support from every sector of the community.