The work and contributions of local artists in the dissemination of CNMI culture and arts were recognized by the Legislature yesterday after the passage of House Bill 20-42.
Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture executive director Parker Yobei described the bill as a “tax exemption for local artists. House bill No. 20-42 exempts all registered artists with the Commonwealth for Arts and Culture from paying business gross revenue tax if they earn less than $20,000 a year.”
The bill was one of the standing committee reports discussed in the House session that started at 1:30pm. HB 20-42 was amended to HB No. 20-20 that talked about tax on agricultural producers and fishing to include artists registered with the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
“This bill is every helpful to our office because the artists that we work with use natural resources like coconut leaves, carvings, trees as instruments of learning to teach children of the indigenous and diverse cultures in the CNMI,” said Yobei.
“The bill allows us to bring in more artists. Compensate them for their time. We are glad that the bill will be finally put into place so we can continue the work that we do,” he added.
Yobei said the bill is also important because it allows the Arts Council to be more flexible in terms of finance, commerce and license.
“Whenever we hire artists for events, the council also has to comply with finance and commerce requirements to such as to ask for business license of the artists or organization we hire. Most local artists do not have those kinds of papers because they are raw finds. Some of them do and perform arts not for profit but for passion.”
Music of the Marianas president J.J. Concepcion said the passage of the bill in the Legislature is a plus for local artists like him.
”This is definitely a great help to our local artists: musicians, performing artists bred and grown in the CNMI. This will give them confidence to think what they are doing in educating the younger generation of our culture is recognized by the government.”
The bill’s next stop is the hearing in the senate. If approved by the two houses, the bill becomes a law.
“ We are very excited because the bill will definitely expand the programs in terms of the different arts that we want to promote. We can work with artists with flexibility to further educate others to preserve our culture. The bill helps the Arts Council achieve its goals.”
The bill now goes to the Senate after hurdling the House.