Artists hope tax repeal pushes industry

Nicole Gerber

ngerber@abc6.com

@nicolegerber

Original works of art can now be sold tax-free in Rhode Island… no more 7% sales tax.

And now, local artist are ready for a push in sales just
ahead of Christmas.

Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to have
tax–free art sales, and for one art gallery in Pawtucket… it means more than just an increase in business.

For Jeffrey Sparer, artist and co-owner of Peace Love Studios in the Hope Artiste Village, art plays a huge role.

“I'm not a doctor, I'm not a therapist, I'm just a regular guy who found that art has helped me in my own mental health issues and I think it's something that's good for everybody,” he said.

Years ago, Sparer was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He turned to art as a release, and a way to cope.

“It helped me find some peace of mind, which I was desperate
for, and also gave me a sense of control that mental illness unfortunately robs
you of,” he said.

For others in his situation, Sparer helped open Peace Love Studios. The gallery hosts art workshops for people with mental
health issues.

Organizers hope that the elimination of sales tax on
artwork promotes awareness and access for those battling those issues.

“Through the sales of our merchandise and our art as well as
our art classes we give back and provide free experiences for communities in
need, so for people who can't afford expressive arts, we go out into the
community and provide that,” said Matt Kaplan, co-owner of the studio.

“Mental illness unfortunately is invisible and misunderstood,
which makes it a harD combination for people. And what I find is the art is
something that has been incredibly helpful,” said Sparer.

For more information on Peace Love Studios, check out their web site.

This weekend is the Holiday Open Studios at the Hope Artiste Village. It's the perfect chance to come out and try those tax-free sales for the first time, with local artists.