Georgia is losing income-generating concerts and theatrical productions to other states with richer tax incentives, performing arts venue managers and music industry advocates told state lawmakers.

“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 industry in the Peach State. “We need to bet on it now.”

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2017 providing tax incentives to musical productions, including both live and recorded performances. The bill was modeled after state tax incentives to the film industry that have played a key role in Georgia becoming a leading center for movie and TV production.

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

“We were leapfrogged when Tennessee and other states … perfected their music incentives,” 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 lost a musical production to Louisiana despite featuring the latest amenities that make it easy to stage productions there.

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

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

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