The government is to consider introducing a tax relief scheme for theatre from 2015, chancellor George Osborne has revealed.
Presenting his Autumn Statement today, Osborne said that the government plans to extend its film tax relief initiative to commercial theatre, with a specific focus on regional theatre.
A limited tax relief for commercial theatre productions as well as a targeted tax relief for venues investing in new works or touring productions to regional theatres, have been proposed.
If approved, the tax credit would come into force from April 2015, following a consultation in early 2014 on the proposals.
The Treasury’s Autumn Statement document states that the corporation tax relief would recognise the “unique value that the theatre sector brings to the UK economy”.
The relief is expected to be of most benefit to commercial producers looking to tour their work regionally.
Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Tax relief for theatres will have the potential for bolstering an environment where bold and ambitious new theatre productions can be more easily produced and toured.
“We have seen how tax breaks have positively affected related creative industries such as the film sector and hope that the consultation will lead to a similar situation for theatre.”
He added: “We will be working closely with government to ensure that the reliefs produce the maximum benefit for the theatre sector throughout the country. ”
Meanwhile, Theatre Royal Plymouth chief executive Adrian Vinken said the move was unlikely to affect the majority of regional venues.
He said that because many of these theatres are run by charitable trusts or local authorities, they are not usually eligible for corporation tax.
“Whilst any gesture of help from government to arts in the regions is to be warmly welcomed, in practice it’s hard to see who might benefit from the scheme which the chancellor is proposing to explore,” said Vinken.
He added: “Many regional theatres do certainly invest heavily in research and development, the commissioning and the production of new work but, because they operate within an overall subsidised framework, any offer of tax concessions would unfortunately, unless I’m mistaken, be irrelevant and benefit no one.”
Anthony Pins, a partner at entertainment accountant Nyman Libson Paul who specialises in theatre, added: “We welcome this initiative to provide tax relief for the theatre industry and would welcome the opportunity to provide our input into the consultation process.”