Date: January 13, 2023
Media Contact: Malissa Bodmann


CLEVELAND – The Ohio Legislature, through Senate Bill 164, has given permissive authority to convert Cuyahoga County’s existing cigarette tax from a per-unit tax to a tax based on the percentage of sales and to expand it to include vapor products. Any changes made to the current tax that funds Cuyahoga Arts & Culture would require support of a majority of Cuyahoga County voters casting ballots on the issue. No decision has been made when or if the issue may be placed on an upcoming election ballot. 

Senate Bill 164, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine, is not a new tax. Rather, it is permissive language that allows the county to decide whether or not to convert and expand the current tax. The bill gives Cuyahoga County and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture the option of placing an issue on the ballot. The current tax, expected to expire in January 2027, would remain in place unless the voters approved converting if. The arts and culture creative sector contributes $9.1 billion to the local economy, providing jobs and helping improve the quality of life. 

“Cigarette sales have been declining at a steady pace for decades, leading to a significant declining revenue for Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC),” said Jill Paulsen, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. “CAC, which is funded solely by the excise tax on cigarettes, is the only political subdivision in Cuyahoga County that has declining revenue. CAC has a 15-year track record of supporting arts and culture experiences that have reached millions of residents. We have distributed $230 million in funding since 2007, and it is vital for our vibrant community that public funding for the arts continues.” 

Jeremy Johnson, executive director and CEO of Assembly for the Arts, said: “A stable, well-funded creative sector is essential for the vibrancy of our region. We began looking at alternative funding options to help replace the approximately 40% in lost revenues since the inception of the tax. We thank Governor Mike DeWine and our State Legislators for giving Cuyahoga County voters the option to consider new revenue support for arts and culture.” 


Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is the region’s largest funder for arts and culture, helping hundreds of organizations in Cuyahoga County connect millions of people to cultural experiences each year. Since 2006, CAC has invested $230 million in over 470 organizations, making our community a more vibrant place to live, work and play. CAC is a separate government entity and a political subdivision of the State of Ohio. For more information, visit 

Assembly for the Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a focus on advocacy, cultural policy, racial equity initiatives, research, marketing that elevates the region, and services for nonprofits, artists, and creative businesses. It is governed by a volunteer board with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Assembly by design operates in close partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a government agency, and Assembly for Action, a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit to serve the entire creative sector. Assembly is supported through major funding from: The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, 

Ohio Arts Council, Huntington, KeyBank,The George W. Codrington CharitableFoundation, Fred & Laura Beth Bidwell,and Barbara S.


Cuyahoga County to Award $3.3 Million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and Assembly for the Arts

Cuyahoga County to Award $3.3 Million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and Assembly for the Arts

Funds will be distributed to support arts nonprofits, creative workers, and for-profit creative businesses

CLEVELAND (March 28, 2022) – Cuyahoga County has proposed an allocation of $3.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help bolster the creative economy, County Executive Armond Budish and County Council President Pernel Jones, Jr. announced today.

The relief funding was secured through a collaborative effort of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) and Assembly for the Arts. Following approval by County Council, funds will be evenly divided between CAC and Assembly for the Arts. CAC will develop guidelines for distribution to eligible CAC nonprofit grant recipients that have a primary mission of arts and culture. Assembly will similarly develop guidelines for distribution to arts-related small businesses and creative workers.

“The economic vitality of our region depends on the revival of creative workers–individual artists, cultural nonprofits and for-profit cultural businesses. The County’s investment will help bring us back from historic losses.  We thank the County Executive and County Council for channeling resources to strengthen the creative sector. As we have seen with prior investments in arts and culture organizations, each dollar invested increases the size of the overall pie” said Jeremy Johnson, president of Assembly for the Arts.

CAC’s Executive Director Jill M. Paulsen said the funding is critically important to the hard-hit arts and culture sector in the county. A CAC report on the impact of COVID on the nonprofit arts sector in the county shows 65 organizations that receive support from CAC have lost $171 million in revenue and more than 5,000 workers have been laid off, furloughed, or faced reduced hours since March 2020. Prior to the pandemic, the creative economy in the Cleveland MSA generated $9.1 billion annually.

“The creative economy is core to the identity of Cuyahoga County, and it has been slower than other industries to begin to recover from the pandemic. We appreciate County Executive Budish, County Council President Jones and other leadership at the county for recognizing the importance of arts and culture and for understanding the needs of nonprofit organizations of all sizes,” Paulsen said. “Every bit of funding helps nonprofits arts organizations recover so they can serve the community well into the future.”