What's good for CME is good for Broadway in Chicago | Bleader

What's good for CME is good for Broadway in Chicago

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Last Friday afternoon, when Governor Quinn quietly signed into law the tax-break ransom ostensibly keeping Sears and CME in Illinois, he also threw a bone to Broadway in Chicago.

BIC, which has a near-total monopoly on commercial theater in the Loop, looks to be the sole beneficiary of a pioneering live-theater tax credit that will reward shows for either (a) hanging around longer than eight weeks or (b) going from here to Broadway.(As far as I can tell, the only other state moved to enact something similar is Louisiana.)

Broadway in Chicago president Lou Raizin has been casting an envious eye on the subsidy Illinois hands out to movie-makers for years now—and lobbying to get the same kind of incentive for his operation.

According to the state, the film industry spent $161 million in Illinois last year. The Illinois Film Tax Credit amounts to a 30 percent rebate on those expenses (the tax credit is a salable commodity), plus another 15 percent diversity incentive on qualifying wages.

The live theater version, so far, is a drop in the bucket, apparently capped at an annual total of $2.5 million (the wording is dicey). It pays 20 percent on production and labor costs (including national advertising), plus an additional 15 percent on qualifying labor if there's a "good faith effort" at hiring minorities.

Raizin claims that the "addition of one year to a long-run show could generate an economic output to the city and state of over $500 million, attracting more than 800,000 people with more than 42% coming from out of market."

Now all they have to do in Springfield is legislate another "Wicked."

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