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Kansas City Council To Consider Rebates For Filmmakers

Bob Mahoney
Courtesy Warner Brothers

A proposal that would give rebates to film and television companies for working in Kansas City, Missouri goes to a City Council committee for consideration on Wednesday.

Film-industry leaders in town have said Kansas City loses out on lucrative business because it can’t compete with incentives offered by other states. The proposed film development program would be another tool for attracting that type of creative work to the city.

In 2014, the city partnered with the Convention and Visitors Bureau to create the Film and Media Office and hired Stephane Scupham to serve as film commissioner.

Rather than providing up-front incentives, the program would give filmmakers rebates based on how much money they actually spend in the city. Rebate amounts would factor in how many locals production companies hired to work on their crews, how many nights they spent in local hotel rooms.

One factor is  whether projects provide a “community benefit,” such as a director or principal actor convening “a panel discussion or seminar for outreach to emerging artists and young people who are interested in the industry,” according to the language of the ordinance.

“The general idea is to find ways for Kansas City to be attractive for that kind of work,” said 1st District Councilman Scott Wagner, who co-sponsored the ordinance with 6th District Councilman Scott Taylor.

Wagner acknowledged it was a small step.

“It’s probably not the thing that will bring every movie studio and commercial maker here, but it’s one of those add-ons that, if Kansas City’s looking good [to a production company], might put us over the top,” Wagner said.

“The reality is that several states around the country, including many that surround us, are very aggressive when it comes to this sort of program,” Wagner said, but the atmosphere in Jefferson City is not conducive to a discussion about tax incentives for this sort of thing.

Rather than try to convince the Missouri General Assembly to consider tax incentives for film production, Wagner said, the rebates are something the city can control.

The City Council's Finance and Governance Committee is scheduled to consider the idea on Wednesday, February 17, at 8:30 a.m. 

"We hope we can at least advance it out of committee to the council to discuss next week if all goes well," Wagner said.

C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.

A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.
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