Hey. Guess how Cleveland is planning to attract the creative class? Handing out money to movie makers, that's how. From an editorial in the Plain Dealer:
With the entrepreneurial Carmody ready to move on, the commission has hired a Hollywood insider: Ivan Schwarz spent 20 years in the business as a location manager and producer. He'll tap his many contacts to promote Cleveland, the city he adopted as his home after first scouting it as a movie site.
The legislature and Gov. Ted Strickland can help Schwarz - and other Ohio movie promoters - by offering the kind of tax incentives other states give productions. The governor dislikes tax credits, but in this case, they'd be a wise investment in a clean industry that would help bolster Ohio's appeal to creative professionals who can do their work anywhere.
Of course, it is hard to see how Cleveland will compete with similar efforts in Pittsburgh:
The Pittsburgh Film Office board released a 23-page study touting its mission and accomplishments yesterday, in advance of a face-off with critics seeking to reorganize the 16-year-old agency. The report mainly drives home the agency's place as an economic development generator -- that it has leveraged $75 in regional spending from every dollar in government funding it has received since 1990 (or $268 million from its $3.5 million in total support).
A local group of film industry professionals called the Pittsburgh Film and Media Alliance has lately been criticizing the film agency, saying it has not been successful at wooing large productions to the region and should refocus on working with local filmmakers. They have also criticized the film office board for allowing the agency's director, Dawn Keezer, to move to Los Angeles.
The problem? Oh, come on. Of course you know the problem. Not enough money. But never fear:
More than two months after Gov. Rendell met with legislators and high-profile Hollywood representatives to talk about making the state more competitive for movie and TV projects, the Senate approved measures doing just that and the House followed late yesterday afternoon.
An earlier vote led to a slight increase in funding for state libraries, while other funding decisions that affect arts groups such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were still pending.
On the film front, the bills provide for a $75 million tax credit program to lure large productions to the state and $5 million in grants to attract smaller ones. An early pitch had been made for no cap on the credits, but $75 million is still a vast improvement over the existing $10 million a year that had been available.
"It's seven and a half times better than in the past three years. We're thrilled," said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. "We're much more competitive. Other states have been spending a lot of money to incentivize this industry."