As Broadway continues to suffer the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing to expand and extend a pandemic tax credit intended to help the commercial theater industry rebound.
Ms. Hochul on Tuesday proposed budgeting $200 million for the New York City Music and Theater Production Tax Credit, which provides up to $3 million per show to help cover production costs.
“They were starting to recover before Omicron, and then, as you all saw, a lot of these theaters had to close again, and these theaters are essential for the economy,” the budget director told reporters. of the State, Robert Mujica. .
The tax credit program, which began last year under Governor Andrew Cuomo, was initially capped at $100 million. Early indications are that interest is high: Nearly three dozen productions have told the state they expect to apply, said Matthew Gorton, spokesman for Empire State Development, the agency for economic development of the state.
The Hochul administration decided to seek to expand the tax credit program — and extend the initial application deadline, from Dec. 31, 2022, to June 30, 2023 — as it became clear that Broadway’s recovery from its long Pandemic shutdown would be bumpier than expected. .
Shows began resuming performances last summer, and many drew good audiences – Ms Hochul visited ‘Chicago’ and ‘Six’ in October, while Mr Gorton saw ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird”.
But the industry is now struggling after a spike in coronavirus cases caused multiple cancellations during the usually lucrative holiday season and then attendance plummeted. Last week, 66% of Broadway seats were occupied, according to the Broadway League; that’s up from 62% the previous week, but down from 95% in the comparable week before the pandemic.
“Obviously, we’re not off the hook yet,” said Jeff Daniel, chairman of the Broadway League’s government relations committee, as well as co-chief executive of Broadway Across America, which presents touring shows on regional markets. Mr Daniel, who is still recovering from his own recent bout of Covid, welcomed the governor’s proposal and said the League would work to urge the Legislative Assembly to approve it.
“Every show we can open generates jobs and economic impact,” said Daniel, who noted the close economic relationship between Broadway and other businesses, including hotels and restaurants. “If we can maximize Broadway, we maximize tourism.”
Under this program, shows are eligible for tax credits covering up to 25% of many production expenses, including labor. As a condition of the credit, shows must have a state-approved professional diversity and arts training program, and take steps to make their productions accessible to low-income New Yorkers.