As Hollywood gets ready to honour Richard Burton on St David’s Day, Business Minister, Edwina Hart is on a mission to ensure Wales is placed firmly on the map as a destination for high-end television drama production.
Mrs Hart will be representing the Welsh Government at the ceremony to mark the placing of the actor’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Following that event she will be meeting film and television producers in Los Angeles to tell them why they should come to work in Wales.
In April the UK government will introduce new tax breaks for high-value television production and Wales is already well placed to take advantage of this.
Mrs Hart said:
"Richard Burton is part of a proud history of the Welsh in Hollywood. He has inspired a new generation of actors, performers and filmmakers from Wales, who are now benefiting from our world class infrastructure and government support.
"Wales is already a destination for Hollywood film-makers, and with the BBC drama village in Cardiff, the only one of its kind in the UK, we are well placed as a destination for high-end television drama production.
"The industry in the USA may already be aware of the new tax incentives being introduced in the UK for high-end television production. But Wales can also offer production funding, a highly experienced, talented workforce delivering award-winning productions and quality infrastructure. I believe this makes us the best place in the UK to produce high-end television drama."
In recent years Wales has seen a renaissance of TV Drama with series like Dr. Who, Torchwood, Sherlock and Being Human produced here.
Starz TV is currently filming Da Vinci’s Demons in Wales. Producers of that show said they chose Wales because it’s cheaper than London, the Welsh crew are fantastically hard working, and there is ample production space.
Mrs Hart said:
"We have the infrastructure to support production here. As well as the BBC studios in Cardiff and a variety of stunning natural locations, facilities range from the 50,000 sq ft Dragon International Studios, used for productions such as Ironclad and Merlin, to converted industrial spaces that abound in south Wales.
"And as a devolved government in a small nation we can work closely with producers to offer support, advice and expertise."
The tax relief on high-end television drama, which starts in April, is worth 25% of qualifying UK expenditure capped at 80% of total budget, i.e. a net value of 20%.
The new tax reliefs will be based on a similar model to the existing Film Tax Relief. Since its introduction in January 2007, the Film Tax Relief has supported £5.5 billion of investment into 825 British films which have received approximately £800 million in relief. It's estimated that the new relief for high-end television drama could result in approximately £350m per year of additional investment in UK television drama production, boosting the UK economy by around £1bn.
The Welsh Government can also offer financial support to production projects choosing to film in Wales.
The creative industry sector in Wales, which currently employs over 26,000 people, is one of the key sectors for growth identified by the Welsh Government. It stretches across a number of industries including film, music, TV, and digital and entertainment media.
Overall employment in the creative industries during the period 2009-2011 increased by 16.5 per cent in Wales. This is the largest percentage increase of all the priority sectors identified by Welsh Government, confirming the Creative Industries as a growth sector in Wales.
Mrs Hart added:
"Attracting more high-end television drama productions to Wales will be key to helping the creative industries grow and build on the good progress already made. I hope to build on the awareness of Welsh talent in the industry when I meet with television executives in Los Angeles."