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Cuomo’s Answer to Broadway’s Crisis Aims to Cancel Inequality

Theatrical companies stand to receive up to 3 million dollars in tax credits if their productions are inclusive and accessible to all

Broadway theaters full of life in 2014 (Photo: Terry W. Sanders)

New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, the city of art déco skyscrapers, live music in pubs till late hours, jazz and Shakespeare in Central Park; a chaotic Manhattan filled with workers and tourists. New York is Broadway, theaters, concerts, museums and art, and after a year and a half of pandemic, and after dealing with the huge losses of the entire sector, governor Cuomo has decided to allocate 100 million dollars in tax credit to support and revitalize the showbiz. His measure is part of a $1 billion package of economic recovery initiatives in this year’s state fiscal budget.

Eligible companies can receive tax credits of 25% of qualified production expenditures. The first year, applicants can receive up to $3 million per production. In the second year they are capped at $1.5 million, but if the tourism economy will not be fully recovered, the cap would remain at $3 million per production. And in order to create a real virtuous cycle, highly successful productions that show ongoing revenues of more than two times their ongoing production costs after receiving a tax credit, will be required to contribute to the NYS Council for The Arts Cultural Program Fund, up to 50% of the tax credit, in order to keep supporting the sector.

All participants will be required to take part in a New York State diversity and arts job training program and expand opportunities for low-income New Yorkers to access productions at low or no-cost. It’s like the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone: it will economically support a highly affected sector while trying to fix some of the numerous discriminations still ongoing in this modern society, such as inclusion of diversity and support to people in need.

Theaters and cinema houses were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Terry W. Sanders

The companies eligible for this program will be able to offset some of the costs associated with producing a show, such as sets, costumes, wardrobes, makeup, technical support, salaries, sound, lighting and staging, salaries, wages, fees and other compensations, technical and crew production costs, even up to 50% of the advertising and marketing costs: basically the whole production of a live show. Ballet, opera, musical solo, group, band or orchestra performances, or stand-up comedy performances are not eligible.

The governor has stated: “Theatrical productions support thousands of jobs and showcase performances and artists that reflect our state’s great talent and diversity. With the state’s coronavirus restrictions lifted, these tax credits will help to restart this quintessentially New York industry more quickly.”

Broadway, deserted, New York (Photo by Terry W. Sanders)

Prior to the pandemic, Broadway theaters welcomed a collective audience of nearly 250,000 people each week, supporting more than 90,000 local jobs and contributing more than $14 billion annually to the New York City economy.

Cuomo’s response to the entertainment crisis appears to be a solid contribution to a sector that has been one of the most affected by the pandemic. The president of the Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, was very appreciative of the governor’s intervention; she called it an “unprecedented initiative” coming at “a perfect moment”.  She said, “It will increase access to Broadway shows for New York State residents and create new career pathways in our industry. We’re gratified for the Governor’s enthusiastic support of Broadway and investment in the industry’s workforce, which are so vital to the economic and cultural health of New York State.”

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, please click on the link.

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