Rhode Island: First "State of the Arts" in the USA
Block Island Tourism Council Executive Director Jessica Willi announced at a recent meeting of the council that Rhode Island had just attained unique status as the first and only “State of the Arts,” a designation that fosters tax exemptions on the sale of “any creative work of art,” that is an “original, one-of-a-kind work of art.”
This announcement is good news to the artists of Block Island who, along with town officials and state legislators, have tried unsuccessfully for several years to have the island designated a tax-exempt arts district. In 1996, the state created nine local art districts, which extended tax exemptions on sale of their work to artists living in those areas; however, New Shoreham was not included.
The current legislation, passed this year, will extend the tax exemption to all “original, one-of a kind art, limited production creative works of art that [are] produced in Rhode Island.” The legislation will take effect in December of this year, Willi said.
She learned of the new status at a recent meeting with Gov. Lincoln Chafee, and it was confirmed in a recent Op-Ed in The Providence Journal, co-written by State Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Gordon Fox.
The legislation provides the go-ahead “to a state sales tax exemption on the purchase and sale of original art,” and was originally introduced by Weed, who represents Newport and Jamestown, and by Rep. Donna Walsh, representing Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown and New Shoreham.
In their editorial, Weed and Fox write that the state General Assembly “continues to recognize” that a vital component of the state’s “small business community is the rich and diverse creative sector that makes Rhode Island home to “over 3,000 arts-related businesses that employ more than 13,000 individuals.”
It is the “expansion of the statewide sales tax exemption on the purchase and sale of original works of art” that is the most “significant action” taken by the state, according to Weed and Fox. “As of Dec. 1,” they said, “This unique incentive will help set Rhode Island apart as the only ‘State of the Arts’ in the country.”