Live performance is a vital part of the region’s creative economy, and Gov. Maura Healey’s plan to give it a post-pandemic boost deserves support.

The region’s many live venues were forced to sit idle in the early stages of the COVID-19 shutdown, and attendance has been slow to return to normal as the virus slowly fades from our lives. The industry lost tens of millions of dollars.

Healey is proposing a $5 million tax credit for theaters and other live performance venues as part of her overall $750 million tax-cut package. The money could be used to help offset payroll, transportation and production costs in an industry where the line between “profit” and loss is often perilously thin.

“Many live theaters are still struggling, so any advantage that we can have to bring in ancillary revenue is absolutely critical,” Casey Soward, executive director of The Cabot theater in Beverly, told Statehouse reporter Christian M. Wade. “It’s something that’s been sought for a while, and we’re really appreciative that the state is taking this seriously.”

The state already offers a tax credit to film studios and production companies, so there is a precedent for extending it to local theaters that help keep our downtowns vibrant. It’s not a handout, it’s an investment, economically and culturally.

“We had a Broadway tour come to Beverly and the cast came in a week before the performance and spent thousands of dollars in our downtown,” Soward said. “It really creates a vibe when you host these kinds of performances, and that has benefits for live theaters and the cities and towns hosting them.”

A proposal similar to Healey’s was filed during the last two-year legislative session, but died after getting caught up in a debate between then-Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders.

That can’t happen again.

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