Concert sales tax rebate was inspired by Bayou Country Superfest incentive

Legislation passed over the weekend in the Louisiana Legislature aimed at attracting more large festivals and concerts to East Baton Rouge Parish was inspired by incentives granted to Bayou Country Superfest.

Filed by Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, HB 450 allows East Baton Rouge Parish to offer a local sales tax rebate on admission to major live music and entertainment events that meet minimum paid attendance requirements. Trey Godfrey, senior vice president of policy at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, says the bill was designed to incentivize concert promoters and national tours for major acts to bring their shows to Baton Rouge.

“This legislation gives concert promoters the opportunity to have a percentage rebated from their ticket sales,” Godfrey says. “We see this as an economic development tool to generate more activity.”

The original bill specified that events would be eligible for the sales tax rebate if they took place in a publicly owned facility with seating for 10,000 or if the event had an average daily attendance of at least 25,000. The bill was amended in early May to lower those thresholds, Godfrey says, so that the rebate would be available for facilities on the LSU and Southern University campuses.

The bill also falls in line with one of BRAC’s key legislative priorities for the year, which was to attract more concerts and entertainment acts to Baton Rouge. BRAC’s five-year strategic plan, BRING IT!, identified that amenities, like concerts, museums, and art venues, were highly cherished among skilled and mobile workers. Last year, BRAC conducted research that showed that Baton Rouge ranked 11th lowest in the country in terms of major music events per capita.

Whether the rebate alone will be enough to attract the major acts the city-parish and BRAC desire remains to be seen, Godfrey says, but he hopes the rebate will stimulate “substantial activity” for the parish.

“We’ve seen this work for Bayou Country Superfest,” he says.

For Bayou Country Superfest, the city-parish offered a 2% sales tax rebate for most of the years the event was held in Baton Rouge. The festival was put on hiatus “until further notice” in 2020.

This story originally appeared in June 6 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.