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Letter of Support

May 2024

Dear Senate President Spilka, Speaker Mariano, Chairman Finegold, and Chairman Parisella:

Thank you for your ongoing work to encourage greater economic growth in the Commonwealth. We are grateful to have such wonderful partners and look forward to many more years of collaboration to help enhance the cultural experience in Massachusetts.

We are writing in support of a measure that is pending before the Legislature – the Live Theater Tax Credit, as included in the Governor’s Economic Development bill H. 4459. This was originally proposed as H. 2711 and S. 1764, “An Act creating a pilot program to enhance economic and community development through live theatrical arts” – these bills are currently pending before House Ways and Means. This would create a tax incentive program to support live theater in Massachusetts, and we know this program will be a significant catalyst for economic growth across the Commonwealth. We urge your support and approval of it in this session.

Under this program, producers of any Pre-Broadway, Pre-Off-Broadway, or National Tour launch that comes to any venue in Massachusetts could seek to offset associated costs that have been incurred already in the Commonwealth – ensuring that the dollars are spent locally before one dollar of state money is invested. Any theater in Massachusetts that meets the size and infrastructure requirements would be eligible to host one of these productions, meaning that the benefits can be enjoyed in any region of the Commonwealth – currently this includes over 70 theaters statewide. The House acted last session by including the program in their version of the Economic Development bill, and Governor Healey included the same program in her Tax Relief bill filed in January 2023.

Massachusetts has a long and significant live theater history. Hundreds of Pre-Broadway and National Tours have originated here – though that number has dwindled in recent years since other states have enacted similar initiatives. We are absolutely at a competitive disadvantage compared to the other eight states who offer a live theater tax incentive – including three states that border Massachusetts: Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.

There is a great economic advantage in implementing this program. Rhode Island calculates that for every $1 in state tax incentives, the return on investment is $8. New York state places their ROI for upstate productions at $10 in benefit for every $1 in state incentives. Rhode Island and New York legislatures have even recertified and expanded their programs recently.

The real benefit to the Commonwealth is around tourism and economic activity from people who come to see these shows. In contrast with other tax incentive programs, the live theater program draws visitors from other states and countries that want to be part of the launch of a new show. This kind of activity does not exist in any other industry, and the corresponding meals, lodging, and tourism dollars can be remarkable.

Upstate New York has seen a significant economic boost from their program. A review of the program in calendar years 2015-2019 showed that 19 National Tours launched in the area, yielding more than $103 million in new revenue to the state. As an illustration of this economic impact, when The Lion King launched a National Tour in 2017 in Syracuse, a town which had never-before launched a Broadway tour, the results were impressive:

• Production team members alone booked 4,251 hotel rooms nights.
• Additionally, an estimated economic impact of more than $14 million from businesses patronized by
theatergoers and production staff was achieved.

In addition to the New England states, we are also losing out to Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; Baltimore, MD (passed in 2022), and cities across Ohio, where a program just began in January 2024. As we look to strengthen the Commonwealth’s economy, having this incentive will be key to luring these productions away from other states and bringing much needed revenue to our venues, vendors, laborers, nearby restaurants, and hotels.

Additionally, Massachusetts has a long history of educating and training people to work in the theater industry as Actors, Directors, Designers, Stage Managers, Technicians, Musicians, and Administrators. When graduates of our conservatory, vocational, community college, and university programs think about beginning their careers, most are unable to find consistent employment in Massachusetts in their chosen fields. While Broadway is always going to be a draw for theater practitioners and fans, the ongoing employment offered by theaters in states where a tax incentive is in place means that skilled theater personnel can live and work there. Creation of this program means that people can stay in Massachusetts, make their lives here, and continue to be part of our economy instead of seeking work in other states.

We ask for your formal support for this issue and hope that you can help boost the theater industry in Massachusetts to the benefit of the entire economy.

Thank you again for your leadership.


Carol Arlauskas, Business Agent
IATSE Local B-4

Brett Baird, President
Falmouth Theatre Guild

Phil Blaskovich, Business Agent
IATSE Local 753

Stephen Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer
Massachusetts Restaurant Association

Margaret Doyle, General Manager
Citizens Bank Opera House

Thomas S. Ferrugia, Director of Governmental Affairs
The Broadway League

Temple Gill, Director of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships
The Huntington

Rosemary Gill, President and CEO
Zeiterion Performing Arts Center

Colleen A. Glynn, Business Manager
IATSE Local 11

Patrick Hollenbeck, President
Boston Musicians Association

David Kuehn, Executive Director
Cotuit Center for the Arts

Robert McCarron, President
Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

Karen Nascembeni, General Manager
North Shore Music Theatre

Nick Paleologos, Executive Director
Berkshire Theatre Group

Mark Pearson, Executive and Artistic Director
College Light Opera Company

Christina Pappas, President and CEO
Massachusetts Lodging Association

Catherine Peterson, Executive Director

Joey Riddle, General Manager
Emerson Colonial Theatre, an ATG Entertainment venue

Emily Ruddock, Executive Director

Donald T. Sanders, Executive Artistic Director
MIFA Victory Theatre

Martha Sheridan, President and CEO
Meet Boston

Troy Siebels, President and CEO
The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts

Casey Soward, Executive Director
The Cabot