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ACS BLOG
on the record

12.15.2023

ARKANSAS LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL APPROVES $5 MILLION FOR FILM REBATE

by
Kody Ford

The Arkansas Cinema Society and the Fort Smith International Film Festival are ecstatic to announce the passage of $5 million in funding for the film rebate! The funding was approved by the Legislative Council after a presentation by Senator Jonathan Dismang (R–Beebe). The funds now head to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission where, as always, individual productions must be approved by the office. This $5 million provides funding for film incentive rebates through the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2024. Senator Dismang helped find these funds to provide a needed stop-gap until the next legislative session, when he hopes the legislature and administration will work together to establish a sustainable funding source for film incentives in Arkansas.

“Filmmaking is a fast growing part of our economy in Arkansas and it’s something we need to support so we can remain competitive with our neighbors like Oklahoma,” said Dismang. “These jobs are bringing in tax revenue that exceeds their investment cost to the state. Myself and my colleagues are doing what we can in the legislature to raise this issue and continue support of the industry. We appreciate Governor Sanders’ past support and the advocacy of organizations like the Arkansas Cinema Society and Fort Smith International Film Festival.”

Film production in Arkansas directly employs many residents along with the secondary benefits of money spent on room, board and other expenses in the area. Also, a study by ChampionTraveler found that areas used as film locations can see an increase in tourism by as much as 31%, which further increases revenue for cities and the state.

In October, Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI) report released in October “An Economic Analysis of the Arkansas Film Production Industry: Impacts and Incentives,” which showed that for every $1 million spent on the film rebate, $4 million was returned to the state’s economy.  

The AEDI study also revealed “employment in Motion Picture and Video Production generally trended downward from 2010 to 2020, rebounding in 2022 to total 260 employees,” with our best year being 2010 with over 300 employees. During the same period, Oklahoma film jobs have risen from 400 to over 6,000 hires. This is an issue that Dismang and others in the legislature are working to remedy, but more support is needed to bring the state on par with surrounding areas.

Dr. Brandon Goldsmith, Executive Director of the Fort Smith International Film Festival and ACS’ newly named Director of Advocacy, said, “These numbers show that rebates work when properly paired with workforce development programs and a proactive film commission. We need the legislature to add career readiness requirements to the incentives, because focusing on creating jobs is how we create a sustainable film industry. You have to understand movie hires are small business hires, your hair and makeup people own salons and the caterers have restaurants.”

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At  ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

watch,
learn,
make.
repeat.

connect to create.

To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.