New York Tax Credit Proposed to Entice Producers to Bring Touring Productions Upstate
On Wednesday, a group of producers and presenters of Touring Broadway; members and representatives of The Broadway League; and elected officials announced a proposed Empire State Live Production Tax Credit to "Keep Broadway in New York State." The tax credit would apply to productions that begin their on-stage activities in Upstate New York.
Upstate New York communities benefit directly when producers launch tours at downtown venues like Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Landmark Theatre and Proctors. The proposed 30% tax credit for "qualified production costs" will entice producers to bring new shows north, in turn pumping important tourism, transportation and lodging dollars into the Upstate economy.
"Broadway is New York," said Proctors CEO Philip Morris. "The Governor and legislative leaders know Upstate New York needs a variety of tools to effectively grow. One of those tools needs to be a New York-centered musical and theatrical production tax credit, possibly tied to the effective film credit programs already underway."
Touring Broadway is an important part of the state's entertainment economy. As an example, one year of Touring Broadway at Proctors in Schenectady generates over $30 million of economic boost-a financial bump mirrored in markets like Buffalo, Rochester and Utica.
"People often underestimate the positive economic impact that these shows have on communities such as Schenectady-when they come to town, more money is being spent on local labor; transportation; housing; food and drink; and marketing," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. "It is critical that we provide incentives so that we don't lose these productions to other states."
All upstate theatres and surrounding communities would benefit from producers choosing to "tech" shows (which involves all members of a production team building the technical elements of a show in preparation for a tour) within New York State. A September 2013 "tech" of Ghost The Musical at Proctors provided a massive increase in regional hotel occupancy; dining; shopping; transportation; and tourism. The Broadway Theatre League of Utica has "teched" six shows, each a sparkplug for downtown business activity.
The goal of the "Keep Broadway in New York" initiative is to encourage investment in live events; spur investment and tourism in the Mid-and-Upstate-regions; and to compete with a growing number of jurisdictions offering favorable tax treatment to investors in live theatre, such as Louisiana, Illinois and Rhode Island.
A $5 million investment generates $50 million of economic activity upstate!
"When we lose theatre production work to other states, we lose a lot," said Senator Betty Little, Chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee. "Not only do we lose revenue important to our theatres as well as state and local coffers, we lose activity that keeps downtown businesses busy. We also lose talented and creative people who put their craft to good use in other states. With our rich history of Broadway entertainment and historic theatres across upstate New York, a tax credit that helps us better compete by leveling the playing field with other states promises great results."
Attendees and speakers at the press conference included:
- Holly Brown, Executive Director, Palace Theatre
- Anthony Conte, President, Shea's Performing Arts Center
- John Fehlner, Executive Director, Broadway Theatre League of Utica
- Tom Ferrugia, Director of Government Relations, The Broadway League
- Senator Elizabeth O'C Little (R-Queensbury)
- Philip Morris, CEO, Proctors
- Albert Nocciolino, President, NAC Entertainment, Ltd.
- Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Schenectady)
- Tom Viertel, Chairman, Scorpio Entertainment (The Producers, Hairspray, The Sound of Music)
- Orin Wolf, President, NETworks Tours (WarHorse, Phantom of the Opera, Flashdance The Musical)
All will spend the remainder of the day in discussion with legislators regarding the importance of an upstate theatre tax incentive to the upstate economy.