Saturday, January 9, 2010

Film incentive program to get another facelift

On Tuesday, January 5th, I attended the Creative Industries Press Conference with Governor Ritter.  He announced his proposed legislation to promote and support Colorado's creative industries. The legislative initiatives announced are first steps towards strengthening Colorado's creative economy as a strategy for keeping Colorado competitive.  These creative industries include commercial businesses, artist-entrepreneurs, and nonprofit institutions in the fields of design, literary and publishing, film and media, performing arts, visual arts, heritage and and a number of other creative industries.

The following article “Film incentive program to get another facelift” is from the Colorado Film and Video Association
by Richard J Schneider

Gov. Bill Ritter unveiling three bills designed to promote arts and film in Colorado. He spoke to a standing room only crowd at Newell Design Studio in lower downtown Denver Jan. 5, 2010.  Photo: Richard J Schneider


The three-bill package would modify the state's media production incentive program, reorganize state-level art and film agencies, and beef-up art in public places efforts. The governor said the legislative package is designed to "establish arts as a priority in economic development."

The incentive proposal builds on legislation passed during the 2009 General Assembly, which created the new state film office and expanded production incentives from film and television to include video games and industrial video productions.

Ritter's new proposal will extend incentive eligibility even more, to include the production of commercials. It would also ease restrictive local hiring and spending requirements.

"We want to pay out incentive funds," said Marsha Morgan, deputy director of the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media. "No funds were disbursed in 2009."

While bill-writing isn't complete, the legislation is expect to be introduced in the 2010 legislative session, which begins Jan. 13, by Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs. Massey has been a prime sponsor of film incentive legislation during past sessions of the General Assembly.

"I think it's forward-looking that they plan to include commercial production under the incentive program," said CFVA president Bob Berg, noting that producing spots is a key element in the Colorado production industry.

Currently, Colorado offers a 10 per cent cash rebate on eligible production budgets spent in Colorado. Out-of-state companies pass Colorado on by because other states offer richer incentive packages. Plus, Colorado's requirement that 75 per cent of the crew must be state residents and 75 per cent of the below the line budget must be spent in the state are considered too restrictive to lure outside business into the state.

Ritter's new proposal relaxes some of those restrictions, but doesn't add any additional funds to the incentive package, which receives about $300,000 a year from state gambling revenues. Also, the governor said none of the bills in the package will cost taxpayers any additional funds; the bills mostly involve reorganization and changes to make sure existing incentive revenues are paid out.

In announcing the legislation, Ritter said that Colorado's "creative industries" employ 186,000 people statewide in the state's "fifth largest employment sector." Virtually all of the state's creative companies are in the small business sector, the "engine that drives the economy in Colorado," he said.

Ritter said he plans to continue efforts to help creative and other small businesses gain access to capitol, job training, and incentives.

"Creative industries produce clean, sustainable jobs," he said.

The other two bills in the package would:

  • Merge the Colorado Council on the Arts, Art in Public Places and the Office of Film, Television and Media into a new Colorado Creative Industry Division within the Governor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
  • Clarify and strengthen the state's Arts In Public Places program that requires a one per cent set aside on certain state-funded construction projects for public art.

-Richard J Schneider