Industry calls for ‘game-changing’ tax incentives to boost Australian theatre investment

Tax incentives to offset costs associated with development and production of new theatre would stimulate investment in Australian productions, generating more jobs on and off the stage for our theatre industry.

Live Performance Australia (LPA), the peak body for the live arts and entertainment industry, has called on the Albanese Government to introduce a scheme similar to the highly successful Theatre Tax Relief initiative in the UK.

LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, said ‘tax incentives to offset pre-production costs for theatre would help to attract investment and create more jobs for theatre workers while bringing more performances to Australian stages.

‘Australian theatre producers compete internationally for investment to capitalise their productions, with 80 per cent coming from offshore investors.

‘We are currently much less competitive than the UK or US where the significant costs involved in developing new works can be claimed back through tax rebates.

‘The UK Theatre Tax Relief (TTR) offers producers tax relief of between 45 and 50 per cent for theatre production costs.

‘The UK theatre industry says the current rates of TTR introduced in 2021 turbo-charged the sector’s bounce back from the pandemic, stimulating investment in new productions and creating new jobs, delivering a 4 to 1 return on public investment.

‘The UK scheme has been described as ‘game-changing’ – it’s exactly the kind of initiative we need to help power up Australia’s theatre industry and to attract private investment in shows for Australian and international audiences,’ Ms Richardson said.

LPA’s proposal for a Live Theatre Tax Offset for the 2024-25 Federal Budget would be available to commercial and not-for-profit theatrical producers and would cover core theatre production costs.

Earlier modelling undertaken by LPA has found that a tax rebate of between 25 and 40 per cent can be cost neutral when set against the additional economic activity generated by the incentive.

‘The Federal Government already provides $123 million a year of tax offsets for the film and digital games industries, which includes support for international productions made in Australia,’ Ms Richardson said.

‘The screen incentives have delivered real benefit for the Australian film industry – we should be doing the same for our world-class theatre industry too.

‘Our live theatrical sector, including musical and dramatic theatre, opera, ballet and dance, and children’s and family entertainment, contributed almost 34% of ticketed attendance, and just under one-third of total revenue for live performance in 2022, and is the largest category after contemporary music.

‘Our proposal could support more Australian-made theatre, including original works by Australian creators telling our stories for more Australian and international audiences.

‘The Albanese Government set out a bold vision for Australian culture and creativity in its national cultural policy Revive. It needs to be supported by policy settings and investment incentives which will help bring this vision to reality,’ Ms Richardson said.

Additional information:

  • LPA Live Theatre Tax Offset proposal
  • According to LPA’s 2022 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report, there were over 8 million ticketed attendances for theatrical productions in 2022 (including musical and dramatic theatre, opera, ballet and dance, and children’s and family entertainment), which generated $765 million in revenue.
  • The UK Theatre Tax Relief covers plays, operas, musical, ballet or other dramatic pieces that tell a story through live performance.

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