10 reasons to support the Playhouse tax
Ten reasons why the Henderson County Board of Commissioners should raise the occupancy tax and direct the money to the Flat Rock Playhouse.
1. It will boost tourism spending. The Playhouse Board of Trustees and director Vincent Marini pledge a robust and comprehensive tourism strategy designed to attract visitors not only to the Playhouse but also to downtown Hendersonville and other Henderson County destinations.
2. It's an economic development investment. Tourism generates $203 million a year in Henderson County and accounts for 1,970 jobs. County commissioners gladly committed $1.6 million in incentives to land the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The 1-cent hotel tax supports jobs already here, not only at the Playhouse but elsewhere in the county.
3. The Playhouse pays its way as an economic driver. The fact is, the Playhouse accounts for $10 million in economic impact already. The numbers can be vetted if the Board of Commissioners wants. They come from a detailed study that has been updated twice, based on ticket sales and surveys.
4. This investment could be the start of an updated campaign. Picture video of bicycling past our apple orchards in spring, the Apple Festival, Main Street, hiking in the DuPont State Forest, fall color, the Heritage Museum, the Playhouse mainstage and downtown space and late next year the Sierra Nevada brewery's restaurant and tasting room. Hendersonville-Flat Rock-Mills River, the tagline says. Stay awhile.
5. It's what the commissioners asked for. The commissioners voted 4-1 to request that the local delegation raise the occupancy tax. State Rep. Chuck McGrady and Sen. Tom Apodaca spent political capital to get the bill passed. If the commissioners reject it now, they ought not be looking for any more local bills from Raleigh.
6. The board can and should made it accountable. The Board of Commissioners can direct the Playhouse to report often on its efforts and the results.
7. The money expires after two years. In a compromise designed to address concerns in the state House, Sen. Apodaca put a two-year sunset on the Playhouse money. After that, the commissioners and Tourism Development Authority could redirect the money to general marketing.
8. The arts are worth supporting. It's true that the Playhouse has paid its own way through ticket sales for more than 50 years. The Playhouse, like all regional theaters, has suffered during the recession. The Flat Rock Playhouse is a wonderful asset that we ought to be proud to have. Instead, too many people want to kick it when it's down.
9. It's already recovering on its own, showing that it has corrected some of the problems of 2010 and 2011. Marini admits he's learning the Henderson County audience. The Playhouse is on a run now of profitable shows.
10. "The show must go on," in Henderson County, is the pro-business position.