Boston Aims to Give Tax Break to Pre-Broadway, Touring Shows

Boston Aims to Give Tax Break to Pre-Broadway, Touring Shows

Massachusetts legislators are proposing a bill that provides a tax credit for producers that stage pre-Broadway previews in Beantown.

The credit would grant up to $3 million to a production, according to the Boston Globe, and also would apply to a touring show that begins its run in the state. The proposal would reimburse up to 35 percent of a show’s state labor cost, and advocates say the “credits would create hundreds of jobs and drive millions of dollars of business into Massachusetts,” according to the paper.

The paper also notes that Broadway productions of “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Anything Goes” and “Oklahoma!” all were staged first in Boston.

“It’s of great economic benefit to the state,” said Richard Jaffe, vice president of Broadway in Boston, according to the Globe. “It’s also not reinventing the wheel. We just want to get it back going again.”

But opponents in the legislature say the cost of the credits are not worth the benefits, and even some working in Broadway don’t see the good side of the program.

“The problem is that in order to do a good job with a pre-Broadway show, you have to be able to keep it in front of an audience for close to a month while you work at it,” said Tom Viertel, a producer based in New York. “The daunting aspect, from a producer’s point of view, is, ‘Can Boston really provide a month’s worth of audiences?’ Even with the tax credits, Boston may be a little limited to what it can attract.”

Illinois legislatures approved a similar tax credit for pre-Broadway shows in late 2011, and as of late last year the city had attracted two pre-Broadway productions because of the credit, “Kinky Boots” and “Big Fish.” Hal Luftig, producer of “Kinky Boots,” said that he spent $2.5 to $3 million to bring the test run to Chicago, and he was given a $500,000 tax break by the city.