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New York offers tax breaks to theater producers

NEW YORK (AP) — New York state lawmakers are giving a financial boost to the theater industry by offering tax incentives for investors who originate live productions in upstate New York, making the state the fourth in the nation to give breaks to plays and musicals.

A program offering a 25 percent refundable tax credit to producers who ready their shows outside New York City was included in the $140 billion election-year budget that passed the Legislature on Monday. The value of the tax credit has been put at $4 million.

New York follows Rhode Island, Illinois and Louisiana. Its credit becomes effective for the tax year beginning Jan. 1. "With other states offering aggressive tax incentives for theatrical production, New York's venues have struggled to stay competitive and attract new shows. However, this incentive levels the field and will, without question, drive millions of dollars into New York," Al Nocciolino, a Broadway League executive and president and CEO of NAC Entertainment.

The tax incentives have helped in other locations, most notably in Chicago where the Broadway-bound shows "Kinky Boots" and "Big Fish" took advantage of a tax credit worth up to $500,000 per production.

Last month, , a group of producers and presenters went to Albany to lobby for a 30 percent tax credit they hoped would pump tourism, transportation and lodging dollars into the upstate economy. The new New York tax break affects shows going through their so-called tech periods, the weekslong process in which a production gathers the costumes, tests the sets and choreography and establishes the lighting and musical cues.

There are believed to be at least eight theaters upstate — in cities like Buffalo and Rochester — that are ideal for teching and launching new plays and musicals. The credit, only applicable to shows "outside the city of New York," is also targeted at national tours that start in New York state.

"Through this tax credit, we hope to expand the excitement of Broadway-style shows across the state so more New Yorkers can enjoy these outstanding performances and the increased economic activity that a major theatrical production can bring. Broadway is a New York brand and who better to benefit from it first than the people of our state," said state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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