RI lawmakers eliminate art taxes

From creations by members of Big Brothers-Big Sisters to United Cerebral Palsy of Rhode Island, showcased at the Tse Tse Gallery in Providence, the 7 percent sales tax that's now been permanently lifted on the sale and purchase of artwork, will make a big difference.

"They don't call us starving artists for nothing. And this will encourage us to be able to go out and sell more of our artwork," said Pat Macko, a Rhode Island artist.

The Rhode Island General Assembly approved a statewide sales tax exemption on the purchase and sale of art, which passed after the Senate approved the final version of the budget on Thursday.

More than 3,000 art businesses and more than 13,000 art-related workers are recognized through a Rhode Island Foundation for the Arts study as an economic engine in a state challenged with economic growth that needs to be encouraged and not taxed.

"People that buy art want to negotiate the sales tax and as a result we have to lower the cost of that piece of art with the artist's approval. With the no tax on the art, the artist can get everything that they rightfully deserve," said Therese Lavallee, executive director of the TseTse Gallery in Providence.

The Tse Tse Gallery is a non-profit that showcases and sells artwork created by groups and organizations, giving the artists a creative platform for their work.

At United Cerebral Palsy of Rhode Island, 60 artists sell more than 300 prints a year for $30 apiece. It may seem like small change, but it adds up for the artists.

"When the folks that buy their art go home with their art and make it a permanent part of their home, it is so satisfying for them," said Peter Quattromani, who is ecstatic about the legislative action.

He applauds the move at the State House.

"That's a key piece of the overall cultural value that a city brings to the table or the state brings to the table I think that this has just been helped out," Quattromani said.