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New York Governor Seeks to Bolster Entertainment Industry

January 19, 2022 by Dan McCue
New York Governor Seeks to Bolster Entertainment Industry
Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. (Wikimedia Commons)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first budget proposal as chief executive includes key tax credit extensions aimed at bolstering the state’s entertainment industry and revitalizing an economy still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Hochul’s proposed budget would extend New York state’s film and television production tax credit for three years, and would push the initial application deadline for the NYC Musical and Theatrical Tax Credit to June 30, 2023.

The proposal would also double the cap for the Musical and Theatrical Tax Credit, raising it from $100 million to $200 million.

New York state’s film and television production tax credit provides credits of $420 million per year for film and television productions, and is currently set to expire in 2026. 

It offers a 25% credit for qualified production and post-production costs incurred in-state, with additional credits of up to 10% on labor costs in dozens of counties outside of the five boroughs that comprise New York City.

The budget provisions were first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

In the early days of motion pictures, New York — and particularly, the New York City metropolitan area —  was a mecca for filming thanks to the variety of “locations” available at low cost in the area and multitude of experienced actors and actresses working near at hand on Broadway and in vaudeville.

In the 1990s, even television shows set in New York were often shot elsewhere, especially Toronto, because of high costs. The state enacted its first tax credit in 2004 to help counter the cost disadvantage.

The industry got its start at the end of the 19th century with the construction of Thomas Edison’s “Black Maria,” the first motion-picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey — a replica stands on the original site today — and some studios, like the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, have withstood the test of time, opening during the silent film era and continuing to serve the industry today.

But the cost of filming in New York has increased substantially in the intervening decades, eventually pushing the industry west to what would become Hollywood. Since then, except for a brief period when the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles pushed productions back east, Toronto and Vancouver have been tapped to serve as New York City backdrops.

Even “My Dinner With Andre,” a quintessentially “New York” film was mostly shot in the then-vacant Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. 

In recent years several states have adopted tax credits and other incentives aimed at luring productions to come to, and stay in, their states.

Production in New York City and the Empire State has been growing steadily since the state’s credits were launched in 2004. Other states that have benefited from the strategy are Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. 

In fact, so promising has the environment for film become in New York, that Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital have purchased both the aforementioned Kaufman Astoria Studios (last November) and the nearby Silvercup Studios, which they acquired a year earlier.

“We are beyond thrilled to add Kaufman Astoria to our studio portfolio and excited to further its legacy as a quintessential destination for major motion pictures and television shows,” said Michael Hackman, founder and CEO of Hackman Capital Partners in a press release announcing the latter purchase.

“The studio has had a remarkable history over the last 90 years and has been an incredibly active and participating stakeholder in rejuvenating the entire Astoria neighborhood. We are excited to work with Hal Rosenbluth and the entire KAS team, as the studio continues to grow and excel as one of the best production facilities in the industry,” Hackman said.

“Since inception, the commitment and vision of George Kaufman has been paramount to revitalizing the greater Astoria community, ensuring that the film and production industry serves as a pillar and economic driver for arts, culture and local small businesses,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Kaufman Astoria Studios. 

“Kaufman Astoria Studios looks forward to building on our great history and expanding on the landmark studios’ success. We are thrilled that Kaufman Astoria will continue to serve as an iconic studio within the growing New York film and television market,” Rosenbluth said.

Hochul’s recent budget proposal is her first since she replaced Andrew Cuomo last summer. Cuomo, of course, was forced to resign after multiple allegations of sexual impropriety and inappropriate behavior.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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