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It's no secret that the city of Chicago is having some serious money trouble. Schools are closing, the police force is thinning, and I think we went a full year without a budget. Anyway, things are a mess.
The point is: because the city can't pay its bills, it is looking for other ways to get the money. In some pretty textbook Chicago politic techniques the city has decided that rock venues that host rock/blues/EDM/DJ/noise etc. are not "culturally relevant" and therefore should be made to pay the city's "amusement tax." This is a reversal of terms from only a couple years ago where the city decided that DJ performances (for one) are culturally relevant, or considered a "live performance" only if the music was manipulated enough and/or accompanied by dancing or other performance.
So right now the city is attempting, in some cases, to now collect back taxes on many small venues who were deemed to not have to pay the amusement tax, but now have to. Several venues face hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to the city, which would more than likely they shut down. The below article discusses some of the infuriating arguments made by the city (and county) stating that certain music isn't culturally significant and should be taxed. Classical music, jazz, recitals get a pass, for example.
I think we can all agree that categorizing what is "worthy" and "not worthy," or "culturally enriching" and "not culturally enriching" is pretty crazy, and even crazier if the decision is made by bureaucrats.
I wanted to get people's thoughts on this, and more importantly ask if anyone would like to get involved in helping these venues defend themselves against an onslaught of lawyers. On October 17th there will be a hearing discussing these things, and deciding the future of many of these small venues throughout the city. I have spoken with Bruce Finkelman, owner of a few incredibly popular rock venues who stands to lose big should the county get what they want, and he let me know that they have a musicologist (he didn't say who) coming to their aid. He said that if anyone was willing to help, or could help, that they are looking for "the cream of the crop" because they only have a few shots to argue their point.
If anyone would like to make a statement, or if you are in the Chicago area, or will be on October 17th, please let him know. Or if you'd simply like to discuss the above, we can obviously do that here too. I just wanted to throw this out there because I think it's insane that in 2016 people are still trying to decide if rock music is considered to be part of our culture (or culturally important).