Coalition of Producers and Arts Workers Launch ‘Catch Up California’ Campaign to fund CA SB 1116 Equitable Payroll Fund for the Arts

LOS ANGELES – A coalition including Actors’ Equity Association and the Theatre Producers of Southern California (TPSCA) kicked off a campaign to fund SB 1116, the groundbreaking arts bill that passed the legislature and was signed into law last year.

The event, held at the Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale on Friday, comes at a challenging time for the live arts in California. Prior to the pandemic, California ranked just 28th in arts funding on a per capita basis. Challenges remain, with small nonprofit arts organizations shrinking. According to TPSCA, the number of theaters in North Hollywood shrunk from 14 before the pandemic to six. Meanwhile, the live arts scene in the Bay Area is suffering from the recent closure of several venues.

The coalition kicked off a request for $50 million to launch the Equitable Payroll Fund, a grant program designed to support live performances – and workers directly – by providing reimbursements of payroll expenses. This program will support jobs for both production and non-production employees.

View photos of the event here.

“This is an urgent moment for California to catch up on arts funding and support live arts workers, who have still not fully recovered from the COVID shutdown,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Funding the Equitable Payroll Fund now will save theaters across the state. It will ensure a better future for thousands of middle-class arts workers in California, as well as all the small businesses that depend on a thriving theater in their neighborhoods. I’m grateful for the leadership and commitment of Senator Portantino as we champion this legislation together.”

“The future of California’s vibrant and eclectic small performing arts organizations has never been in greater peril, with new reports of closures every week,” said Martha Demson, President of the Theatre Producers of Southern California. (TPSCA). “We implore the California legislature to recognize our rich cultural and artistic legacy and to act now to fund the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund. This innovative program will help restore sustainability for our vulnerable theatres, ballets, operas and symphonies, ensuring a place for California’s diverse community of artists and creative innovators in the years and decades to come.”

“We are deeply concerned about the rising number of theater and live events venues closing across California,” said Julie Baker, CEO, California Arts Advocates. “These closures represent a loss of jobs and livability. Public investment is critical and necessary for arts to be accessible for all and for communities to benefit from the economic and social impact of arts and culture. We were thrilled the Governor signed SB 1116 and now urge the Legislature and Administration to breathe life into the bill by funding it in this year’s budget. This is a smart investment for CA to make.”

The event included remarks and videos from Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle, SB1116 author California State Senator Anthony Portantino, Actor/Director Jason Alexander, Actor / Antaeus Artistic Director Bill Brochtrup, Actor Kirsten Vangsness, Playwrights Arena Artistic Director Jon Lawrence Rivera, Theatre Producers of Southern California Board Member Marc Antonio Pritchett and Ophelia’s Jump founding producer Beatrice Casagran.

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. #EquityWorks  

January 31, 2023