As NM film production hits record high, AZ wants a slice
Direct spending into New Mexico’s economy by the film, television and digital media production industry in the 2022 fiscal year increased 36% over 2021, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced yesterday: a record high of $855.4 million. In addition, state officials say 2019 legislation providing an additional 5% tax credit for productions outside the Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor led to a 660% increase in direct spending from the film and television industry for the state’s rural communities. The state Film Office detailed the film tax credit’s components and outcomes yesterday in a presentation to legislators on the interim Economic Development and Policy Committee. “Another record year for film and television industry spending makes it as clear as ever that New Mexico is the place to be for film and TV,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Due to the work we’ve done to foster a successful environment for production and build a thriving base of talented local crews, film and television productions from around the world are putting money directly into New Mexico communities, supporting our small businesses and creating jobs for thousands of New Mexicans.” Other data points highlighted by the governor’s office include increases in worker days; total production numbers; and median wages. Arizona recently passed its own film tax incentives, with proponents pointing to New Mexico’s success. “They’re trying to be competitive with New Mexico, not only because their landscape is creatively competitive but also because New Mexico is so busy,” Ryan Broussard, vice president of sales and production incentives at Media Services tells The Hollywood Reporter about AZ’s new tax credits. “There’s sure to be fallout.”
Biden taps NM governor’s chief of staff for federal bench
President Joe Biden yesterday announced the nomination of Matthew L. Garcia, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s chief of staff, to the US District Court for the District of New Mexico. Garcia has held the position for the last two years after serving as its general counsel. He was previously in private practice. New Mexico US Sen. Martin Heinrich and US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, both Democrats, said in a joint statement they had recommended Garcia strongly to the president. “Mr. Garcia has built an impressive record of public service with a history as one of the state’s top civil rights attorneys,” the statement reads.” A University of New Mexico alum, with strong ties to the local legal community, Mr. Garcia will continue a proud legacy of fair-minded and committed federal judges in our state. We look forward to working with the Biden administration and colleagues in the Senate to advance this nomination and fill the vacancy in an expeditious manner.”
In other government personnel related news, Lujan Grisham announced several leadership appointments yesterday for the state Department of Workforce Solutions, Department of Transportation and Personnel Office. State Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, announced she is resigning her post, effective today, in order to care for a family member. Armstrong, during her four terms, has been widely recognized for her work on health care issues, including the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. “My goal has always been to make quality healthcare accessible for all New Mexicans. From ensuring access to affordable prescriptions and contraception, to legalizing medical cannabis and compassionate options for the terminally ill, we’ve made incredible progress over the past eight years,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Thank you to my supporters and colleagues across the Roundhouse who helped make these victories for the people of our state possible.”
DOH Secretary: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed
In a COVID-19 news update yesterday, Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the state anticipates seeing the BA.5 variant account for most of its cases at the start of August. Though more transmissible, the variant does not appear to create more serious illness. Moreover, he said, New Mexico is not experiencing more serious illness and deaths. “This is a completely and totally different pandemic that we were in two years ago,” he said. That difference lies in the availability of treatments and vaccines. While there has been an increase in cases, serious illness and deaths have not risen. Scrase also noted the number of recorded cases from PCR tests “is starting to fall off. And that’s really good news. So we’re happy about that. And the modeling team met this week, and kind of confirmed that they’re seeing that in the future, the case counts coming down as well.” Referring to case counts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday upgraded several New Mexico counties from “red” or high community COVID-19 levels to medium (including Santa Fe County, as noted below). Scrase said yesterday he does not anticipate reinstating or revising the current public health order (which is expected to be reissued today without changes), but advised people to remain aware of the CDC assessments and take appropriate precautions. “We feel like the tools we have right now to fight the pandemic are so good that overarching government requirements aren’t needed,” Scrase said.
COVID-19 by the numbers
New cases: 593; 575,862 total cases
Deaths: 29; Santa Fe County had 323 total deaths; there have been 8,035 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 173. Patients on ventilators: 16.
Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends, for the seven-day period of July 4-10, San Juan County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population: 63.4, followed by McKinley County at 60.9 and Lincoln County at 59.7; Santa Fe County’s case rate was 42.4, down from 49.4 last week and within the second highest category of case rates—red—in that report.
Community levels: Good news for Santa Fe County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly community levels report, which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination for its framework, for the seven-day period of July 7-13, seven counties—down from 11 last week—have “red” or high levels. After two weeks of high levels, Santa Fe County has decreased to “yellow” or medium levels. Nine counties have “green” or low levels and the rest are medium. The CDC’s recommendations include indoor masking for people living in counties with high community levels. The remainder of its recommendations can be found here.
Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at VaccineNM.org.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
On the most recent episode of the excellent Where We Meet: Conversations from New Mexico and Beyond podcast, Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, talks with host and Taos Center for the Arts Executive Director Chelsea Reidy about the impact the Trinity Test had on communities in New Mexico, and the ongoing quest for justice for the victims of the first nuclear weapon detonation. The Downwinders Consortium will hold a candlelight vigil and town hall tomorrow to mark the 77th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon at the Trinity Test site.
Ready, set, weekend
A busy summer weekend beckons, Santa Fe. In addition to opening performances of Falstaff starting Saturday night, the Santa Fe Opera offers two free concerts, at 6 pm this evening and 3 pm on Sunday, of music by M. Butterfly composer Huang Ruo, at SITE Santa Fe (no tickets required). This evening, “Angel Island,” an oratorio for voices and string quartet, will be performed by the San Francisco-based Del Sol Quartet and feature several soloists: soprano Fang Tao Jiang; tenor Yi Li; mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen; and bass Yichen Xue. On Sunday, the Del Sol Quartet will perform Ruo’s “A Dust in Time,” an hour-long meditation inspired by Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas (the album comes with a coloring book in which you can draw your own mandalas while listening, and received an excellent review from The New York Times). This weekend also features a slew of block-like parties: the Siler Yard: Arts and Creativity Center hosts The Siler Yard Summer Shindig from 3 to 6 pm tomorrow at 1218 Siler Road with local food, beverages, tours of some of the live/work studios and hands-on demonstrations from MAKE Santa Fe. Art Walk Santa Fe hosts the Desert Party ArtWalk from 1 to 9 pm tomorrow at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company. And the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s block party takes place 11 am to 7 pm on Sunday. You can find info on all these happenings and many more in SFR’s weekly picks and calendar.
Indigenous art 101
New Mexico’s Indigenous Celebration 2022 is underway and, potentially, overwhelming. So says Forbes, which offers up “A First-Time Visitors Guide” to Indigenous art in Santa Fe, which the story describes as “the centerpiece” for those who want to learn about and purchase Indigenous art: “With dozens of galleries and a handful of world-class museums devoted to Indigenous artwork—not to mention the hundreds of Native artists directly selling their work there during markets and festivals–America’s oldest capital city is without peer in the realm of Indigenous artwork,” the story reads. The story provides primers into genres of Indigenous art, such as pottery, painting, sculpture and jewelry, highlighting specific artists and venues at which to see their work. In the last category, Forbes highlights the Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, describing it as the home for the “finest collection of Native American jewelry” in the Southwest. “The intent of the museum was to become the center for the story of Native American jewelry and (we) started collecting 30 years ago with very direct intent,” Jean Higgins, interim director of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, tells Forbes. “Then we had some incredible donors who had been collectors and wanted to give their pieces, but they wanted it to be somewhere where it would be seen, so they also gave seed money to start building the gallery.”
Here comes the rain again
The National Weather Service forecasts scattered showers and thunderstorms today after noon with a 30% chance for precipitation and a high temperature near 88 degrees. Tomorrow looks about the same and Sunday brings stronger chances for rain (50%). In anticipation of potential rain tonight, the City of Santa Fe canceled tonight’s scheduled movie event at Swan Park. Overall, it’s looking hot and possibly wet across the state for the next week.
Thanks for reading! On the one hand, The Word feels compelled to watch the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion because she once taught a class on Austen adaptations. On the other hand, it just sounds horrendous and might make her angry for days on end.