Remove GST on Art-works - Let Art Survive in India

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The 12% Goods and Services Tax (GST) that has been levied on artworks has painted a sad picture for the artists in India. Under the new rules, no artwork can leave the studio for an exhibition without paying the GST.

What percentage of exhibited artworks sell in India? 2% - 5% according to sources in the industry. Most artists will not be able to take their artworks to the gallery under the new regime. Because they will have to pay the GST before they actually sell the artworks and we already know what percentage actually sells. 95% of artworks will remain unsold in the studio, probably for the lifetime of the artist, GST fully paid. Lives of innumerable talented artists will be doomed by this tax rule.

Art is not a commodity, neither is it a necessity in the economic sense. It is a choice. Art is a unique human expression that can’t be mass produced in factory. Neither can it be mass-sold. In a 2003 ruling, the West Bengal High Court had exempted art from VAT. The GST has also exempted performing art so why not the same for drawings, paintings and sculptures?  In any case, artists do pay income tax on all their earnings, including income from sale of artworks.

Indian artists pursue their art under many economic hardships. There are few schemes, few government-driven initiatives, and incentives for artists.  Please do not burden them further. Let artists survive. Let artists bloom. If artists do not survive shall we have any art?

We urge the government to take back the GST on artworks. Please let India be a free country for art. Let us have art exhibitions. For art is not a necessity in the economic sense, but it is a necessity for a meaningful life.

If you care for art, please sign this petition and let this it reach the Hon'ble Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley and the Hon'able Minister of Culture Dr. Mahesh Sharma.