California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a “landmark” bill that creates the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund to provide much-needed support grants to small nonprofit performing arts organizations, helping offset a portion of their payroll costs. Introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino (D – Burbank), Senate Bill 1116 was sponsored by the Actors’ Equity Association and Theatrical Producers of Southern California.
“The creative arts industry was hit hardest by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the governor said in a signed statement. “I am proud of the economic and cultural contributions our industry workers make to California, and support industry-led efforts to improve their ability to succeed and improve our communities. Without community arts organizations, many of our small and underserved communities may not have access to the arts.”
He noted, however, that the grant programs the law creates are still subject to funding and “encourages authors and stakeholders to work through the budget process to address the funding needed for these grants.”
“This bill is an important step forward for California’s live arts industry and the thousands of arts workers who have yet to fully recover from the Covid shutdown,” said Actors’ Equity President Kate Shindle. “In signing this bill, Gov. Newsom clearly understands that the live arts are a huge economic driver for communities across California. Our work is not done, as we must now secure funding for this program next session. I am grateful for the leadership of Senator Portantino, who brought this innovative bill to the floor for a vote, and look forward to Governor Newsom working with our coalition to fund it.”
“This is groundbreaking legislation for the live performing arts in California,” said Martha Damson, president of the Theater Producers Board of Southern California. “Once funded, the Equitable Payroll Fund will save hundreds of vibrant theatre, music and dance companies that are currently at great risk of closure. The investment will lead directly to thousands of jobs for artists; It will create avenues of access and upward mobility for creative workers represented; And it will ensure that our small nonprofit performing arts organizations remain an engine for economic growth and well-being in local communities. We are grateful to Senator Portantino for her leadership and applaud Governor Newsom and the state legislature for their willingness to take action in support of social justice and inclusion in the arts and entertainment industries. We look forward to working together on the budget material in the next legislative session.”