Tax Credits Could Lure Producers Back To State Stages

“Matilda” began its tour at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven and stayed in town for seven weeks.,

“Matilda” began its tour at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven and stayed in town for seven weeks.,

Could a state tax credit program help lure Broadway producers to build their national tours in Connecticut?

Perhaps — if it existed.

Major tour launches won’t likely happen anytime soon at the state’s main presenting houses, including The Bushnell in Hartford and New Haven’s Shubert Theater, because Connecticut lacks a tax credit program to compete with the lures offered by an increasing number of states, including New York, Rhode Island, Illinois and Louisiana.

Meantime, Massachusetts and Ohio have also considered tax credits aimed at encouraging music or theatrical production companies to conduct pre-tour activities, technical rehearsals and even perform shows there.

Connecticut theater executives say they’ve been able to attract some of this work in the past, but it’s getting harder as more states compete for it. Some theater houses want to renew efforts to get a state tax credit program, though they know it will be an uphill battle given Connecticut’s fiscal condition.

New York’s incentives were adopted in 2015, and have helped lure weeks-long technical set-ups and performances in Schenectady (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”), Rochester (“A Bronx Tale”) and Syracuse (a revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”).

States are interested in incentivizing this work because of its potential economic benefits.

For example, “The Lion King’s” technical set-up period and launch for its most recent tour in Syracuse had an estimated local economic impact of more than $14 million from travel, hotels, restaurants, and other activity generated by theatergoers and production staff, according to figures from The Broadway League — a national trade association for the theater industry.

“You can see how many more tours started in New York State after the tax credits were put in place there [five years ago],” says commercial producer Orin Wolf, a 2001 graduate from University of Hartford’s Hartt School.