Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs “Landmark” Bill To Aid Small Performing Arts Nonprofits

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a “landmark” bill that creates the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund to supply much-needed support grants to small nonprofit performing arts organizations, helping them offset a portion of their payroll costs. Introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino (D – Burbank), Senate Bill 1116 was cosponsored by Actors’ Equity Association and the Theatrical Producers of Southern California.

“The creative arts industry was amongst the hardest hit by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the governor said in a signing statement. “I am proud of the economic and cultural contributions that our arts workers provide to California, and support industry-led efforts to improve their ability to succeed and continue to enhance our communities. Without community arts organizations, many of our small and disadvantaged communities may not have access to the arts.”

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He noted, however, that the grant program the legislation creates is still subject to funding and encouraged “the author 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 still not fully recovered 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 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.”

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