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City, Cathedral Still Split Over Entertainment Tax

Times Staff Writer

The city of Garden Grove and the Crystal Cathedral remain at odds over whether the city can tax large-scale stage productions such as “The Glory of Christmas” and “The Glory of Easter” to help finance the arts.

A 15-member Blue Ribbon Committee on the Arts, appointed by the City Council, is recommending that the council consider a tax on live, commercial entertainment in halls with more than 500 seats. The two religious pageants, held in the 3,000-seat Crystal Cathedral, are not mentioned by name in the report, but according to one panel member they were among the events under discussion.

Charles Todd, attorney for the Crystal Cathedral, said the State Board of Equalization has ruled that the “Glories”’ have religious significance. Because “religious significance constitutes a form of worship, the state board held it was appropriate for the Crystal Cathedral to conduct the pageants on its property and remain tax exempt,” he said.

The question for both the arts committee and the City Council, according to John Bushman, spokesman for the city, is whether the pageants--which charge between $14 and $25 per seat--are commercial.

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“I think that’s exactly what they’re going to look into,” Bushman said, “whether they would meet our criteria for a commercial enterprise for purposes of entertainment.”

Even if the city decides that the pageants are commercial, Bush said, taxation is only “a possibility. That doesn’t mean we would tax them. . . . We’re looking at step one in an involved process. . . . If they jump to the conclusion that this is a tax on the Crystal Cathedral, they’re off base.”

The committee’s report is expected to be presented to the City Council early next month.


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