- Mike Blount
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO – (Friday, June 11, 2021) – A dozen California lawmakers are joining Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) in calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to support the Legislature’s proposed investment of $50 million in the 2021-22 budget to help struggling nonprofit performing arts organizations reach an equitable economic recovery.
“The performing arts sector in California was among the first to shutdown during the pandemic and will be the last to fully reopen,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “This investment is critical to helping nonprofit arts organizations get back to serving their communities, while ensuring their workers have the protections they need as the industry works to rebound from this crisis.”
Staffing costs were a top cited need by nonprofit arts organizations struggling during the pandemic, according to early surveys conducted by the California Arts Council. Democratic legislators have proposed investing $50 million to establish a grant program administered by the California Arts Council and distribute the funds to small, nonprofit performing arts organizations in compliance with AB 5 and all other California labor laws. The grants would help organizations cover labor expenses, including administrative payroll costs, wages, workers’ compensation, and any other expenditures related to complying with labor laws.
“Arts and culture are essential. Creating and consuming art gives us hope," said Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). "Painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, film, television, literature, poetry, music, dance, theater, and comedy are all concurrently mirrors of our society and catalysts for change. Prior to the global pandemic, they contributed a larger share of our gross domestic product than even agriculture, construction, or transportation. This robust grants program is the best way to ensure that arts organizations impacted by COVID-19 will help lead the California Comeback, return people to the workforce, and ensure we continue to commit to the promise of a California For All.”
Labor unions representing stagehands, actors, performers, theater employees, and other workers in the performing arts sector applauded California lawmakers for prioritizing investments in a workforce that was among the most significantly impacted by the pandemic closures.
“While everyone was impacted by the pandemic, particularly hard hit were those who are employees in live venues — only now is their work slowly beginning to return. This financial support is necessary to ensure that our members, the women and men who bring California theatres to life, whether they work backstage or onstage, can once again practice their craft to the enjoyment of millions of Californians,” said Carlos Cota, Board Member of the California IATSE Council representing theater workers across the state. “We applaud Assemblymember Gonzalez, and the Assemblymembers and Senators who have pushed for this commitment.”
“Asm. Gonzalez has shown tremendous leadership in fighting for additional funding for small arts employers to ensure they offer critical worker protections. This new arts funding will be critical to help small theaters and live performing arts centers reopen after the pandemic,” said Mary McColl, Executive Director of the Actors’ Equity Association. “This arts funding will not only help the workers, but also bring economic benefits to California’s cities and towns because we know that live arts events generate additional spending on everything from dining to childcare and transportation. We are grateful to all the members of the Senate and Assembly who have supported this increase in arts funding.”
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, contact Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov