Los Angeles, CA (April 20, 2021) – Artists throughout the state of California are uniting for the passage of Senate Bill 805 (SB 805), titled, “SAVE THE PERFORMING ARTS ACT OF 2021,” which the Senate Labor Committee will vote on Monday, April 26, 2021 in Sacramento, CA.
A Coalition of 40 small 99-seat non-profit theaters and freelance performers are banding together to make theater accessible to all. Continue the conversation with us on Instagram @sb805california, on Twitter @sb805ca and on Facebook. Hashtags include: #SB805, #THEATERMATTERS, #CALIFORNIA, #TEATRO, #BIPOCAccess, #SOSCA, #TheaterIsSocialJustice
SB 805, entitled, “Save The Performing Arts Act of 2021,” is the first bill in the nation that will create a critical funding infrastructure to help assist Small Nonprofit Performing Arts Companies (SNPAC) with average adjusted gross revenues equal to, or less than $1.4 million, to be adjusted every five years based on the California Consumer Price Index. SB 805 will direct the California Arts Council to establish the California Nonprofit Performing Arts Paymaster, which will provide low-cost payroll and paymaster services to SNPACs. This legislation will establish the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund to ensure that SNPACs can pay all workers minimum wage, particularly workers in marginalized communities.
Why is this bill important?
Small nonprofit theaters are incubators for playwrights, actors, designers, directors and other artists. They have historically provided networking opportunities and mentorship for Black, Indigenous and People of Color artists to facilitate connections necessary for career advancement by providing performance experience that helps to open doors to larger, less accessible companies. Furthermore, SNPACs contribute to the economic growth, social well-being and cultural vitality of the local communities they serve.
Authored by State Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) representing the 22nd District, and co-authored by State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) representing the 26th District, SB 805 will support 501(c)(3) non-profits and small performing arts organizations which exist for charitable purposes to bring the arts and educational and cultural activities to the general public at reasonable costs, especially in underserved communities. Luis Valdez, Founding Artistic Director of El Teatro Campesino and Writer/Director of Zoot Suit and La Bamba, said:
“Fifty-six years ago El Teatro Campesino was born on the picket lines of the Great Delano Grape Strike, led by César Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Originally formed of striking farm workers, our company has survived over the last six decades by working from the rural fringes of our society, serving the underserved by giving voice to the voiceless. Before 1965 there was no Chicano theatre, and precious little Latino theatre, from the fields of California to the Great White Way in New York.
“Working out of our converted packing shed playhouse, we have nonetheless nurtured actors, playwrights, designers and stage technicians who would have otherwise never had this foundational opportunity to develop their skills as teachers and artists in the professional theatre. Included among these artists are the late Diane Rodriguez, a beloved core company member in the 70s who went on to become an Associate Artistic Director of the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles; Edward James Olmos and Daniel Valdez, stars of my play and film Zoot Suit, the first Chicano play to make it to Broadway; Octavio Solis and Josefina López, renowned playwrights who saw their first works produced on our stage; Cultural Clash – Richard Montoya, Rick Salinas and Herbert Sigüenza – who initiated their group career in our playhouse; and a long list of other Latino and Asian actors who have graced our boards over the years.
“The fact is that for over half a century El Teatro Campesino has played a foundational role in the evolution of the American theatre by working out of a 99-seat house in one of the poorest rural areas in the country. It is for this crucial reason that I appeal to your sense of justice and fair play in support of SB 805. The effort to curtail and stifle the spirit of creation at the very grass roots of the American theatre can only impoverish independent working artists and our multicultural society as a whole.”
Josefina López, creator of the play and co-screenwriter of the film, Real Women Have Curves, as well as Founding Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater, a 99-seat performance venue in Boyle Heights, CA said:
“Small community theaters tell the stories that mainstream theater won’t because they often consider the stories of BIPOC like me not commercial enough to merit productions on their stages. We are the voice of those left out of the mainstream narrative that puts a white man’s experience as the universal experience. I created my theater to provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them, and to serve my local community, and beyond. Over our 20-year history we have created new works and festivals like ‘Brown & Out’ telling LGBTQI+ stories, and ‘Chicanas, Cholas y Chisme,’ telling Latina women’s stories.”
What can you do to help?
On Monday, April 26, 2021 SB 805 will go before the Senate Committee on Labor for a vote. If you want small 99-seat theatres to survive in California, please call and E-mail the offices of the senators mentioned below prior to April 26, 2021 to ask them to pass SB 805. The Senate Labor Committee consists of:
State Senator Dave Cortese (Chair) (D-San José) representing the 15th Senate District: https://sd15.senate.ca.gov.contact
Sacramento Capitol Office Phone: 916.651.4015
Campbell Office District Phone: 408.558.1296
@dave.cortese, @DaveCortese, @senatordavecortese
State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh (Vice Chair) (R-Yucaipa) representing the 23rd Senate District:
Sacramento Capitol Office Phone: 916.651.4023
Rancho Cucamonga District Office: 909.919.7731
State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) representing Senate District 24: https://sd24.senate.ca.gov/email-our-offices
Sacramento Capitol Office Phone: 916.651.4024
Los Angeles District Office: 213.483.9300
@SenatorMariaElenaDurazo; @MariaEDurazo; @senatormed
State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) representing Senate District 17:
Sacramento Capitol Office Phone: 916.651.4017
Monterey District Office Phone: 831.657.6315
San Luis Obispo District Office: 805.549.3784
Santa Clara County Satellite Office Phone: 408.847.6101
Santa Cruz District Office Phone: 831.425.0401
State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) representing Senate District 29:
Sacramento Capitol Office Phone: 916.651.4029
Fullerton District Office Phone: 714.671.9474
Photo Credit: The cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast The Broadway Musical at CASA 0101.