Actors' Equity Association Commends Gov. Newsom for Signing SB 1116 into Law

SB 1116 Was the First California Bill Sponsored by Actors’ Equity in California as a Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Underinvestment in the Arts

LOS ANGELES – Actors’ Equity Association released the following statement commending Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing California Senate Bill 1116, a measure introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino (D – Burbank), which creates a payroll fund to support small nonprofit performing arts organizations (SNPAOs). The bill was jointly cosponsored by Actors’ Equity Association and the Theatrical Producers of Southern California.

SB 1116 establishes the Equitable Payroll Fund (EPF), 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.

“This bill is an important step forward for California’s live arts industry and the thousands of arts workers who have still not fully recovered from the COVID shutdown,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “In signing this bill, Gov. Newsom clearly understands that the live arts are a huge economic driver in communities across California. Our work is not over, as we must now secure funding for this program in the next session. I’m grateful for the leadership of Senator Portantino, who brought this innovative bill to the floor for a vote, and hope that Gov. Newsom will work with our coalition to fund it.”

"This is landmark legislation for the live performing arts in California," said Martha Demson, Board President of the Theatre Producers of Southern California. "Once funded, the Equitable Payroll Fund will save hundreds of vibrant theatre, music and dance organizations that are currently in great jeopardy of shutting down. The investment will lead directly to thousands of jobs for artists; it will create access and a path to upward mobility for underrepresented creative workers; 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 his leadership, and applaud Governor Newsom and the state legislature for showing they are willing to take action in support of social justice and inclusion in the arts and entertainment industry. We look forward to working together on the budget component in the next legislative session."

The bill could not be more timely. Arts and cultural employment declined 12.1 percent in California between 2019 and 2020, according to recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A March study from the National Endowment from the Arts found that the unemployment rate in the arts in 2021 (7.2 percent) was still more than double the pre-pandemic level.

While California has made gains under Gov. Newsom, it has suffered from years of underinvestment in the arts. Prior to the pandemic, California ranked 28th in state arts funding on a per capita basis. SB 1116 helps solve this problem and arts workers who still have not fully recovered from the shutdown of the live arts sector during the pandemic.

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  

September 29, 2022