Tourism officials banking on this year’s marketing theme celebrating local music might get a boost if state lawmakers OK a bill aimed at strengthening the industry and keeping talent in Georgia.
The bill is modeled on a similar incentive for the film and television industry that has helped lure a number of big-budget movie productions from the West Coast in recent years.
Lanier Islands has been a key location in Hall County for several Hollywood movies in the past few years, including “Blended,” featuring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, which shot for more than 50 days locally.
Other movies and television productions filmed throughout the county include “Hall Pass,” starring Owen Wilson, “Sabotage,” featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the television series “The Vampire Diaries.”
Georgia provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend half a million dollars or more during production and post-production in the state.
The state offers another 10 percent tax credit if a promotional logo provided by the state is included in the final cut.
About $1.7 billion was spent in the state during the filming of 248 movie and television productions between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, according to the state Department of Economic Development.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development cites a 2011 study reporting that the music industry in the state is worth $3.7 billion, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs.
Advocates say tax credits for music recorded here, particularly for film, television and theater, could help the industry attract new artists, retain and nurture up-and-comers, and spur the development of new recording facilities and event spaces.
The state holds its own when it comes to the number of legacy musicians and bands that call Georgia home. From Ray Charles to REM to Outkast, there is lot to be celebrated.
“The year of Georgia music highlights all the musical artists, venues and events over the year, and Gainesville-Hall County has plenty to offer,” said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As the cultural hub of North Georgia for well over a century, Gainesville’s arts scene may surprise even the most savvy patron.”
With events hosted by The Arts Council bringing in world-class musical performers and groups like Gainesville Theatre Alliance, “music is vibrant and flourishing in the area,” Dickson said.
Live music venues, from outdoor amphitheaters at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Smithgall Woodland Legacy, in Gainesville and the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue to pubs and restaurants with acoustic, jazz and rock performances, there is a little something for everyone, she added.
Gainesville spokeswoman Catiel Felts said the city prioritizes music above nearly everything else when it comes to organizing local events like the Mutts on Main and Spring Chicken Festival, which include concert performances.
“The first question we always ask ourselves when planning an event in Gainesville is, ‘What kind of music do we want?’” she said. “We already have more than 30 events planned with local artists performing.”
This includes the annual Blue Sky Concert Series in the summer.
The “shining star” of the area’s music scene is the John Jarrard Foundation Concert held on the campus of Brenau University, Dickson said.
The event, which honors the namesake hometown hit maker, attracts songwriters from all over the region, an event that state tourism officials have noticed.
“We are excited to be assisting the state in their efforts to showcase and expand music tourism this year,” Felts said. “Music is at the core of everything we do.”