Imagine you had 18 million dollars to give to charity. I think we can all agree that the best use of the money would be to give it to Yale Rep to develop new plays. After all, there are plenty of people feeding the hungry and curing AIDS already, right? Thank G-d, somebody has finally figured this out, as yesterday the Robina Foundation made an 18 million dollar gift
to the New Haven institution.
In 2004, in order to avoid paying his fair share of estate taxes, James H Binger a quite cultured member of the 1% left his money to the Robina Foundation, which he founded. Before all you development officers out there get too excited about making a grant proposal to Robina though, you should probably know that they only give to 4 charities, and accept no unsolicited proposals. So not only did this corporate king avoid paying taxes, he placed a firewall around the money, ensuring the funds, taken from the tax payers coffers could only go to his buddies. This is truly a remarkable use of the 501(c)(3) charitable deduction code. Here we have a multi million dollar foundation which itself pays no taxes, that makes multi million dollar donations to Yale Rep, which also pays no taxes. Next time you get angry at Mitt Romney's tax rate, you should bear this in mind.
The message here is clear, by defining the majority of producing theater companies as charities, the tax code has ensured that the theater remain in the proper hands of our economic and cultural betters. How much better it is to allow the 1% to allocate public funds for the arts as they see fit, the buffoons elected by the ignorant masses would probably just mess things up. After all, what does Paul Ryan know about the works of Brecht. He would probably think that lowering the deficit, or even building performance space open to public use, was more important than putting up a really exciting new musical adaptation of Midsummer Nights Dream. And since so few people want to pay to see a really exciting new musical adaptation of Midsummer Nights Dream, it might never happen with public funds!
One last thought, if we are so convinced that multi million dollar contributors own the political system lock, stock and barrel, why would we imagine that gifts to the arts have no effect on the art that is created?