New entertainment fund hopes to bring great television and film to Tucson

TUCSON, Arizona (KOLD News 13) – A major food TV show and production company interested in filming in Tucson – something local leaders say could make the area big bucks. While the exact show and production company is still under wraps, Tucson is taking historic steps to get it here.

Gone are the heyday of westerns filmed in southern Arizona along with many major film and television productions.

“Arizona, Tucson, and Pima County in general are always a bit behind because we don’t have film funding. We are constantly competing with New Mexico on these issues, ”said Dan Gibson, senior director of communications for Visit Tucson.

Last year Tucson had some big projects like Love and Hip Hop, The Best Baker in America and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Rio Nuevo said with the success of these shows that at least two other production companies are interested in Old Pueblo – one a “leading food television series” and the other a film production company.

“These are big name networks and it’s a great time to make Tucson stand out,” said Edmund Marquez, chief executive officer of Rio Nuevo.

Marquez said these could bring Tucson millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars. The problem, however, is that Arizona doesn’t have any tax incentives or grants for the movie industry. Our neighboring states have strong incentives such as enticing filmmakers and television productions. Netflix recently placed a large studio in New Mexico because of tax incentives there.

“It really is the only thing that matters,” said Gibson. “You’re going to change a script that says a goal to be made somewhere in New Mexico because there are incentives.”

Rio Nuevo unanimously approved a new entertainment fund on Thursday, September 9th, which will provide $ 500,000 to cover production costs for film and television projects producing in Tucson.

“The Arizona state tax credits for movies were discontinued years ago and state law never brought them back into play,” Marquez said. “So this is a great opportunity … it’s downtown and it’s obviously focused on the outskirts that extends down Broadway and has to generate sales taxes in our district.”

Productions receive funding based on the sales tax they spend in Tucson. The fund is paid for with income that Rio Nuevo generates from regular business. Aside from the state’s toll-free Reel Savings program, applications for permits for state roads and parks, and other discounts, this is the only competitive incentive to bring the cameras.

“It gives us a few options that would help us pursue projects,” Gibson said.

According to Visit Tucson, film and television generated $ 6.4 million in direct spend and hotels generated nearly nine thousand room nights in the last fiscal year.

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