Tax Credit to benefit Off-Off-Broadway 

 
1/22/2010 


On the morning of January 21st, members of arts, cultural and theatre tasks forces from Manhattan Community Boards (CB) gathered at Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office to present a proposal that is currently being considered by the CBs that would help financially pressed Off-Off-Broadway theatres.

This demonstration was in response to a challenge that President Stringer made in February of 2009 at a joint public forum on the state of small to mid-sized theatres in NYC that was hosted by Community Boards 1 – 5. “Hold us [elected officials] to a higher standard” he said, “give us a roadmap to the products you expect.” The Community Boards took this challenge to heart.

Committees were mobilized in an effort to find “innovative solutions to remedy the current fiscal and real estate crises that are endangering… theatres and other performing arts organizations throughout New York City.” Over the last year hundreds of emails have been sent and dozens of roundtables and meetings were held to gather information and prioritize the needs of the independent theatre community.  At the top of the list was affordable rehearsal and performance space.

The proposal that will be hammered out in the coming weeks seeks to “incentivize landlords to offer lower leases at below market rates to a core set of venues” through the implementation of a real estate tax credit. In addition the task forces endeavor to identify the available inventory of Community Facility F.A.R. space so that it may be more effectively utilized by the theatre community. In an unprecedented show of borough-wide support all 12 Manhattan Community Boards have agreed to consider the proposal. Arts and Cultural task forces will informally work together to draft letters and/or resolutions for their individual boards to consider.

As with other tax-incentive programs, like those granted to stadiums and other development projects, the program would be designed so that “the city would ultimately reclaim the revenue from a real estate tax credit through the ancillary spending generated by the influx of people who would come to these locations with the specific intention of patronizing arts-related events and who would spend money at local businesses.” They go on to recognize that Off-Off-Broadway theaters “encourage community-friendly evening foot traffic, safe streets for our community residents and protect small business diversity.”

Robert Lyons, Artistic Director of the Ohio Theatre congratulated the CBs for “recognizing both the micro-economic functions of the arts in our neighborhoods as well as their macro-economic development benefits to NYC.”

The collaborative efforts of the Manhattan Community Boards are an inspiring and impressive beginning for this proposal. However much more work needs to be done to see it come to fruition. Public support and option is a very important part of this process and your participation is vital. This February and March, the public will be invited to voice their support for Community Board resolutions and/or letters to be voted on at the individual Community Board Meetings regarding this new proposal.  Letters of support sent to local and state elected officials are also strongly encouraged.

Find out more about how you can help.

To receive more information, learn of new developments and how you can support its legislative prospects, send an email to: commbdtheaterforum@workshoptheater.org, with the words “Subscribe me” in the title. And check back for an updates and details of Community Board meetings where this proposal will be addressed.

Also see the letter from Community Board 4 to Christine Quinn's office.


RELATED STORIES

Tax Abatement Help on the Way for Neighborhood Theatres by Serena Solomon 1/28/10
Arts & Culture committees Create Alliance to Craft Innovative Solutions for NYC Theatres in Crisis on Broadway World 1/21/10
Movement Seen for Tax-Break Plan for NYC Landlords Leasing Space to Artists by Leonard Jacobs 1/20/10

We would like to extend a special thanks to Katie Rosin at Kampfire Films PR for her dedicated help in spreading the word about this important issue.



 

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