Neil Patrick Harris, Harvey Weinstein, Bryan Cranston joined U.S. senator Charles E. Schumer in a public push to grant Broadway a tax incentive similar to the one offered to the film and TV industries.
In a Sardi’s event also attended by Tyne Daly and thesps from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Newsies” and “Cinderella,” Schumer and the Broadway League presented the case for offering investors first-year tax breaks on investments up to $15 million per theater project, on par with what investors in film and TV get. The senate finance committee recently approved the proposal as part of the current “tax extenders” bill, but that bill must wend its way through the Senate itself and then through the House to achieve full approval.
Similar incentives to the one in the current proposal are in place in other countries including the U.K., and Weinstein — who has invested in a long string of Broadway productions over the years — argued that the transatlantic disparity was one of the reasons his new tuner, “Finding Neverland,” originated first in Leicester, England, in 2012.
“It’s the reason we went there,” he said. “If we had more support for Broadway, people like myself would be more adventurous with our investments.” (An overhauled version of “Finding Neverland” will bow at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. this summer.)
Backers of the tax initiative also contend that the proposal will benefit not only Broadway’s home, New York, but also cities and states around the country, since Broadway fare regularly hits the road to play national tours. Besides that, live theatrical events originating in other locales, including Las Vegas, would also qualify for the incentive.
“From an actor’s standpoint, it’s healthy for all of my friends to be able to go to work, and all the crew that live here in New York,” Cranston added. “And it enables producers to take chances.”
No definite timeline exists for the passing of the tax extenders bill, although Schumer said he hoped it would be approved by the Senate later this month and by the House by the end of the summer.
He also noted that he’d recently seen Cranston portray Lyndon B. Johnson in his current Main Stem gig “All the Way,” and has recommended it to all his colleagues. “Harvey and I have both told the president he ought to come see the show, get a little LBJ going,” he said.