‘Nashville’ Not Worth Tax Incentives, Protest Group Says
While fans have undertaken an enormous campaign to try to save TV's Nashville, not everyone in its namesake city thinks the show is worth it.
ABC pulled the beloved musical drama from the schedule on May 12, leading to much speculation online as to why Nashville was canceled. The Season 4 finale on May 25 served as the series finale instead, leaving the fate of one of the show's principal characters in doubt. Upset fans and the show's producers have banded together in a concerted effort to save the show by taking it to another network, starting a petition and using the hashtag #BringBackNashville.
But a spokesperson for a Tennessee taxpayer's advocacy group says the show wasn't worth the tax incentives and grants the city and state paid to keep the production filming locally. Part of Nashville's viability since its second season has depended on incentives and grants to help offset part of the enormous costs of shooting on location, and according to Nashville's WSMV news, local government has apportioned more than $2 million in incentives since 2014; $500,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015, with another $875,000 set aside for this year.
The State of Tennessee has also paid out grants totaling $31 million since the show's first season, with the rationale that the show's value in driving tourism, as well as the enormous economic impact of having the productions employ local craftsman, actors, musicians, songwriters and various other services, more than makes up for those incentives. But Ben Cunningham, founder of Tennessee Tax Revolt, sees it very differently.
“The state and city together have given this TV show tens of millions of dollars. This is a huge amount,” Cunningham tells WSMV. “And basically what this does is it emboldens any entertainment company that’s coming into Nashville, and of course there are thousands of them, to come to the mayor’s office and say, hey, you gave $10 million or however much money to this Nashville TV series. We want money, too.”
Cunningham feels that government should leave these types of issues to the private sector and use taxpayer money to fund other things. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry is an ardent supporter of the television program, even turning to social media to voice the city's continued support for the show when the cancellation was announced.
“The wonderful thing about being able to fund schools and roads is that you have to have revenue, and a lot of that revenue comes from tourists who come here,” Barry tells WSMV. “So having our name out there brings tourists to town and helps us get that revenue.”
The mayor's office is not actively involved in pitching Nashville to new markets, but WSMV reports the city would welcome any proposition. Lionsgate TV, who co-produce the show, recently revealed that multiple networks are pursuing a deal to continue Nashville, and the cast members are still under long-term contracts.
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