DEAR PETER: NEO must go Hollywood, or Canada, or Lousiana, to get in pictures

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 01/09/2005 - 19:39.

Bodwin Theater Company Director Kevin Cronin contributes to
the Cleveland Plain Dealer "Voices in the Arts" series of guest
columns on arts and culture in NEO with a compelling business case for
encouraging more filmmaking and related industry in Ohio. In his analysis, he
explains how this industry "cluster" can generate greater unique
value and economic benefits for this region than may casinos and convention
centers, which tend to monopolize the local development mindspace. To
illustrate the potentials, Kevin highlights data on benefits of the film
industry in Canada and the states of Louisiana, Illinois, Alabama, Oregon, New
Mexico and New Jersey, totaling $ billions... concluding "If Ohio wants
film, commercial, TV and digital-media jobs and income, it needs to take the
legislative steps to compete effectively. They are sensible, cost-effective, necessary
tools to compete with other states and countries to generate employment and
business growth." With elections coming up for Cleveland Mayor (for which
current Film Commissioner Carmody is apparently running) and for Ohio Governor, both of which will
focus on workforce and economic growth, it is timely now to push for the benefits Kevin proposes this creative cluster offers in
the future - make the candidates address these opportunities before they get our votes.

VOICES IN THE ARTS - Kevin Cronin, Director - Bodwin Theatre Company

Ohio should offer tax and economic incentives to attract movie crews
Sunday, January 09,
2005

 

From pundits to populace, everybody seems to agree that Northeast
Ohio needs to step out in a new direction, using the creative arts to
drive a new economic resurgence. So why are we talking about the same
old models of massive public construction, like a convention center, to
bring about this new economy?

While Ohio talks about encouraging film, television and media
productions, it lacks the tax and economic-development incentives
offered by many other states and foreign countries to lure filmmakers.
These can add up to significant savings and provide powerful incentives
to produce films and television shows in a particular locale.

Canada's various incentives can reduce a movie's production cost by
20 percent to 30 percent, according to figures provided by the Illinois
Film Office. U.S. movie and television producers inject about $10
billion a year into the Canadian economy. Much of that money would stay
in the U.S. economy if tax incentives were applied more broadly in the
states.

Ohio needs to provide carefully targeted tax assistance to
encourage economic growth in new and vibrant ways. Here are some of the
tools other U.S. states have embraced.

Investor tax credit. Louisiana offers a 10 percent to 15 percent
tax credit to attract private investment for the production of films,
videos, TV programs and commercials.

Employment tax credit. Illinois offers a 25 percent credit for
hiring its residents in a production made in the state. (Louisiana
offers a similar 10 percent to 20 percent credit.)

Sales tax exclusion. In Louisiana, a production company can exclude
sales tax for expenditures of $250,000 or more. The purchases must be
related to a local production and be made with money deposited in a
checking account in a Louisiana state financial institution. In other
states and countries, a point system guides the sales-tax reductions
permitted, based on production expenses.

Film enterprise zone. Alabama provides targeted tax breaks for productions sited in its Shelby County.

Oregon production investment fund. Authorizes a 10 percent tax rebate for productions spending $1 million in the state.

New Jersey loan program. Allows the state to offer loans or loan
guarantees of up to $1.5 million to independent filmmakers who shoot
most of their projects in New Jersey.

The bottom line is that helping film and TV production companies is a wise investment of public money.

Since Louisiana enacted its package, production companies have
spent $251 million in the state. When New Mexico began offering
filmmaker incentives, production companies' spending increased from $8
million to $80 million in the state.

If Ohio wants film, commercial, TV and digital-media jobs and
income, it needs to take the legislative steps to compete effectively.
These incentives aren't offered to generate headlines or star appeal.
They are sensible, cost-effective, necessary tools to compete with
other states and countries to generate employment and business growth.

Kevin Cronin is managing director of Bodwin Theatre Company, a Cleveland nonprofit arts organization.