Titled, "Keep Broadway in New York State," the 30 percent tax credit would apply solely to national tours of Broadway productions, not pre-Broadway out-of-town try-out engagements, according to producer Tom Viertel, who was among the industry members in Albany.
Most touring Broadway productions schedule a technical rehearsal engagement, prior to an official tour launch in a major U.S. city.
Similar tax incentives in such states as Louisiana, Illinois and Rhode Island have lured producers to tech many Broadway tours out of state. "The producers do some very careful budgeting with these productions and the road is a tight economic package. They have to be very careful," Viertel said. "This credit been driving shows to the states that offer it because it is such a big potential savings."
Those in support of the bill state that a New York State credit would help upstate economies by increasing dining, hotel bookings, transportation, shopping and tourism when Broadway tours tech their productions at in-state theatres. They cite the fall 2013 tech of the non-Equity first national tour of Ghost the Musical at Schenectady's Proctors Theatre, which provided a "massive increase" in the local economy.
Viertel estimates that about eight theatres in upstate New York are ideal candidates to house the large-scale physical touring productions, among them Shea's Performing Arts Center (Buffalo), the Landmark Theatre (Syracuse) and Proctors (Schenectady). Keeping technical runs of Broadway tours in-state is also beneficial to the members of the creative team, most of whom reside in New York City. "It certainly doesn't hurt to have everyone on the creative team within shooting distance of New York City," said Viertel.
Members of the Broadway industry supporting the bill are not currently seeking to make the credit available to pre-Broadway engagements. "The fact is there isn't an upstate city big enough to support the kind of a pre-Broadway run that is required," Viertel noted. Most Broadway productions try-out in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, which have populations large enough to support a four-week run.
Proponents also point out that one year of Touring Broadway at Proctors generates over $30 million in the local economy, which is mirrored in markets such as 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 in a statement. "It is critical that we provide incentives so that we don't lose these productions to other states."
Along with Viertel, those who were in attendance or spoke in support of the measure included NETworks Tours president Orin Wolf, Proctors CEO Philip Morris, Broadway League director of government relations Tom Ferrugia, Palace Theatre executive director Holly Brown, Shea's PAC president Anthony Conte, Broadway Theatre League of Utica executive director John Fehlner, NAC Entertainment, Ltd. president Albert Nocciolino, as well as Senator Elizabeth O'C Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Schenectady).