Music industry

Georgian Music Industry Advocates Call for Richer State Tax Incentives |

The Columbia County Performing Arts Center opened earlier this year in Evans.

ATLANTA — Georgia is losing concerts and revenue-generating theater productions to other states with richer tax incentives, performance venue managers and music industry advocates told state lawmakers Thursday. .

“We all support music,” Mala Sharma, president of Georgia Music Partners, the state’s leading music industry advocacy organization, told members of a legislative study committee looking for ways to grow the music industry. industry in the Peach State. “We have to bet on it now.”

The General Assembly passed a law in 2017 providing tax incentives for music productions, including live and recorded performances. The bill was modeled after the state’s film industry tax incentives that have played a key role in Georgia becoming a leading center for film and television production.

But Georgia’s music industry tax incentives have proven weak compared to incentives offered by other states, Sharma said.

“We were overwhelmed when Tennessee and other states … perfected their musical prompts,” she said.

Josh Small, general manager of the $33 million Columbia County Performing Arts Center, which opened earlier this year in Evans, said the new facility has lost music output to Louisiana despite having the most amenities. recent ones that make it easier to stage productions there.

“The producer would have preferred to use us,” he said. “They would have come here if we had had the tax credit.”

Norm Easterbrook, executive director of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus, said the producer of a nationwide tour of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was negotiating with the RiverCenter but traveled to New York state instead because he had better tax incentives.

Easterbrook said the current Georgia music tax incentive requirements that producers spend a certain amount of money and run productions for a certain amount of time to qualify for the tax break make it difficult for smaller venues in the State to obtain quality productions. These 2017 tax incentives are due to expire at the end of this year.

“We are asking for these adjustments in order to have an economic development tool,” Easterbrook said.

Easterbrook said there is also a quality of life element to being able to stage musical productions in Georgia.

“It makes available to our cities top-tier production that will tour the country at an affordable cost,” he said.

In addition to improving its tax incentives, Georgia would also benefit from creating a state office to support the music industry, said Brendon Anthony, who directs the Texas Music Office in Austin.

The four-person agency was established as a stand-alone operation in 1991, but didn’t really take off until it was placed under the Governor’s Office and later under the Economic Development Operation and of tourism in this state.

Anthony said research compiled by his office has generated economic impact data that shows the benefits a vibrant music industry brings to a state.

The office has also launched a “music-friendly community” program that helps cities network to promote their music venues. Every city in Texas with more than one million residents participates in the program, he said.

“We are lucky to have an office like ours,” he said. “We continue to affect the operation of our industry in a significant way.”

The study committee will hold one more meeting this fall before formulating its recommendations for the plenary General Assembly to consider during the 2023 legislative session starting in January.

This story is available through a partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.