Lucy Pollak Public Relations

Governor Newson signs bill securing critical funds to support creative worker jobs


Press Contact: Lucy Pollak
[email protected]  (818) 312-2276 (for media only)


Governor Newson signs bill securing critical
funds to support creative worker jobs


LOS ANGELES (September 20, 2023) — Theatre Producers of Southern California, known as TPSCA, is thrilled to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law Budget Trailer Bill SB104/AB104, which includes funds to implement SB1116 The Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund, authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) and co-sponsored by TPSCA and Actors’ Equity Association.

SB104/AB104 will reallocate $11.5 million in unexpended funds from previously established grant programs for the performing arts to the Fund, with $7.5 million coming from unused funds in the Nonprofit Performing Arts grant program, and $4 million from the California Venues grant program. Once established, the Equitable Payroll Fund will be used to reimburse payroll expenses for small nonprofit theaters, dance companies, choruses, opera houses, symphonies and other nonprofit performing arts organizations.

“We believe this represents a critical step toward rebuilding sustainability for California’s small nonprofit performing arts organizations, and for expanding job opportunities for thousands of underemployed creative workers in the sector,” says TPSCA board president Martha Demson. “We want to thank Senator Portantino for championing our cause over the past two years, and for his stalwart efforts in seeking to repurpose unexpended funds from earlier relief grant programs. We also want to express our gratitude to Governor Newsom for keeping these much needed dollars in the performing arts.”

“As we work to ensure that the Fund becomes accessible to all eligible organizations, we want to acknowledge the extraordinary partnership with Actors’ Equity Association that has brought us to this point,” she continues. “The dedication and experience of Actors’ Equity national policy director Brandon Lorenz and the wisdom and advocacy of president Kate Shindle have been critical to our success, as has been the unflagging support of California Arts Advocates CEO Julie Baker and the passion of the entire SB1116 coalition that never wavered in its purpose or advocacy.”

“This is a critical time for everyone in the live arts, and I’m thrilled to see that California has met the moment at a perilous time for small theaters statewide,” says Shindle. “This funding is a win for everyone. It will ensure that actors, stage managers and other creative professionals are properly classified as employees — ensuring protections like workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance — while providing resources to not-for-profit theaters struggling to comply with that additional expense. This temporary relief will offer stability and growth potential, which will help communities of all sizes throughout the state. Live performing arts generate a halo effect that benefits nearby small businesses: restaurants, hotels and more. I am so thankful we had a champion like Senator Portantino leading the charge for us over the last year. We look forward to building on this work in the months ahead.”

“California Arts Advocates is grateful to Senator Portantino for his steadfast leadership for arts workers and for a thriving nonprofit performing arts ecosystem,” agrees Baker. “We also recognize the support of Governor Newsom, and the legislative leadership teams for ensuring there are funds to implement SB 1116. The timing could not be more critical as we know this sector of the arts is slower to rebound. Due to a confluence of reasons, including systemic undercapitalization of the arts, many in the nonprofit live arts are hanging on by a thread. SB 1116 is an innovative solution to ensure there are well paid jobs and creative incubators for performing arts. However, the funding is much smaller than the problem and we look forward to working with the legislature and administration to ensure both swift and equitable implementation of the bill and increased investment overall in the future of the creative workforce, a vital yet vulnerable industry.”

In a groundbreaking innovation, the Equitable Payroll Fund will award the highest-percentage reimbursements to the smallest organizations, reversing the typical arts funding tendency to reward the most established institutions and elevating the role smaller organizations have to play in generating equitable opportunities across the state.

A new study by CVL Economics, the firm behind the annual Otis College Report on the Creative Economy, found that the California performing arts sector generates significant economy activity. According to the study, “for every 100 performing arts jobs, an additional 156 jobs were supported in other sectors through downstream impacts. Each Performing Arts job resulted in $13,287 additional state and local tax revenue.”

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