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Emily Baker stars as "Esther" in the Sight & Sound production in Branson.

MO bill names Branson ‘Live Entertainment Capital’ of Missouri

The Missouri House last week voted to name Branson the Live Entertainment Capital of Missouri.

The city has more than 100 live entertainment venues, according to Branson.com and sees almost 8 million visitors yearly.

“Branson has long been synonymous with world-class entertainment, drawing millions of visitors each year to experience its unique charm and hospitality,” said Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, who sponsored the legislation. “By officially designating Branson as the Live Entertainment Capital of Missouri, we are not only celebrating its cultural significance but also laying the foundation for sustained economic prosperity for our state.”

REVIEW: Metro Voice reviews “Esther” at Sight and Sound

Tourism is the primary driver of the Branson economy, as well as one of the state’s primary economic drivers. In 2022, the state brought in $18.4 billion through tourism, of which $4 billion, or about 22 percent comes from Branson. House Speaker Dean Plocher also offered his support of the legislation.

“Branson is a gem in our state’s crown, offering unparalleled entertainment experiences that showcase the best of Missouri hospitality and creativity,” he said. “With the passage of HB 2320, we affirm Branson’s status as a premier destination for live entertainment, further solidifying its position as a key driver of economic growth for our state.”

However, in floor debate, some members of the House argued against the motion, alluding to allegations that Branson isn’t a welcoming place for diverse travelers.

“If we’re going to name a live entertainment capital of this state, I would very much like it to be a part of the state where everybody, no matter what they look like, no matter who they love, feels welcome,” said Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City. “Branson is not it.”

Rep. Jamie Gragg, R-Ozark, who previously worked as a performer at Silver Dollar City for more than a decade, explained why he believes Branson is the entertainment capital and disputed Aune’s claims that it was not inviting for all travelers.

“It is actually an entertainment capital,” he said. “There are more seats in Branson, Missouri than there are on Broadway. It has actually got people working there from all around the world. It is not just for entertainment purposes. It’s for historical purposes. It is a true gem of our state.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration

–Dwight Widaman | MV

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