As area theaters work on an agreement with proposed casinos in the area, they’ve succeeded in securing a long-sought tax credit from the state Legislature.
The Upstate New York Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit is part of the state budget and will take effect Sept. 1 — moved up from an originally proposed Jan. 1 start — after Friday’s vote by the Legislature.
Proctors CEO Philip Morris and other theater companies have sought the tax credit for more than a year. The bill calls for a 25 percent tax incentive to producers of major touring and theatrical productions who opt to launch such tours from a qualified theater in upstate New York.
In addition to Proctors in Schenectady, other theaters eligible to employ the tax credit include the Stanley Center for the Arts in Utica, the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, the Auditorium Theatre in Rochester, Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo and Albany’s Palace Theatre.
Morris said the tax credit will allow upstate theaters to compete with Rhode Island, Illinois and Louisiana, which are now launching the majority of Broadway shows thanks to tax breaks,
The tax credit is intended to prompt major theater companies to launch national tours in Upstate New York after successful Broadway runs. Opening a show in a given place offers the locale additional economic benefits, since the “teching” process of transitioning a Broadway show into a touring production takes weeks.
“It ranges from two to three weeks for smaller shows to five to six weeks for bigger shows,” Morris said. “We are talking 150 people.”
Morris said the tax credit will help surrounding business and also compel stage productions to contract with New York support staff and services.
Morris has previously lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his support of the bill, as well as state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, chairwoman of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, for getting the tax credit included in the budget.
“This legislation would help spur job creation and economic growth by attracting more big-name shows to Proctors, bringing more people into Schenectady and boosting local businesses,” Santabarbara said in a statement.
This is not the only effort Morris has been involved in recently for the larger theater community. He is one of the drivers in the Upstate Theater Coalition for a Fair Game, which is negotiating with hopeful operators of casinos in New York to work out deals with theaters that could be affected by new gaming centers.