Chicago's small bars and clubs are sighing in relief as Cook County officials recently announced the performance of rap, rock, and dance music by bands, MCs and DJs would indeed qualify as "fine art." Therefore, said music venues will continue to be exempt from a three percent tax on ticket sales, which in turn means they don't owe the County hundreds of thousands in back taxes.
The issue arose in late August when small-capacity clubs like Beauty Bar and Smart Bar, fitting below the 750-person mark, received demand notices from the Cook County Department of Revenue that their DJ-heavy programming did not meet the tax exemption qualifications of providing a “live cultural performance.”
The backlash from dance fans, professionals, and artists was swift and vocal. Most of the clubs in question would be forced to close doors if saddled with such a heavy and sudden financial burden. Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey met with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s administration, representatives from the City of Chicago, and industry stakeholders to investigate these claims and get to the bottom of the issue.