As the state of Georgia continues to work towards further cementing itself as a hub for the entertainment business, Rep. Erica Thomas (D-39) has announced plans to co-chair the newly-created Entertainment Caucus in the Georgia House of Representatives. Catherine Brewton, vp creative at BMI, will also serve as co-chair.
According to a release for an upcoming press conference, the caucus' mission is to “create a dialogue that bridges the gap between politicians, entertainment professionals and the community and shares the importance of activism always and not only during highly-publicized events.”
So far, the caucus is set to include Warner Bros. Records Senior Vice President A&R Ray Daniels, Atlanta music veteran Chaka Zulu, 21 Savage co-manager Kei Henderson and producer Sean “The Pen” Garrett, among others. Brewton, who was tapped with selecting members for the caucus, says she is hoping to add an influential member of the film and TV industry to the caucus soon.
While the caucus is still in its early stages, Brewton says initial goals include making sure beneficial information is disseminated to local creatives, incentivizing creatives to do business in the state and potentially being involved in the creation of a music district similar to Nashville’s Music Row.
“What we know about caucuses, committees and boards is sometimes when you throw too many things in the fire, nothing gets done,” Brewton says. “We’re really being very purposeful. We’re being short-sighted."
She adds, "We’ve had one meeting that’s been really just a small group to talk about what we believe the caucus can do that’s tangible. There will be two- to three-year goals that may require heavy lifts, but we are all really excited to be a part of a movement that allows kids who are moving in -- and even some established creators who are in this community -- to know that there is a place they can go if they need help. That’s really what we want to do.”
Brewton says she hasn’t been involved with the Georgia Music Investment Act, the first-ever tax incentive for the state’s music industry that went into effect in 2018. Modeled after the film and TV tax incentive in Georgia, the act was created to “incentivize the composition, recording, production and performance of music, as well as the planning and rehearsal of music tours.” But she said one of the conversations she’s been having outside of the caucus is about whether or not the threshold for the tax incentives is too high and leaves out small-scale creatives.
With new governor Brian Kemp taking office in Georgia just last week, Brewton says she doesn’t yet know how the relationship between the governor and the caucus -- as well as the broader entertainment community -- will be.
“We are open to meeting with Kemp,” she says. “It really goes back to dollars and cents. The state makes a ton of tax dollars [off] creatives in Georgia, so I would hope that we can bridge the gap [between the entertainment community and political officials].”
Brewton says the caucus hopes to be as transparent as possible with the entertainment community.
“If there are individuals that want to serve on some of the smaller groups that will be think tanks, we’re open to that,” she says. “We want it to be forward-facing and not some circle of folks that get the intel and then go off on their respective duties to do their own things and not message it back to the public. We absolutely do not want to work in silos and are open to any other organizations or groups that have some of the same missions that we have. We’re certainly willing to share some of the intel that we get.”