by | Mar 18, 2021 | SB 805 Archive | 0 comments


March 18, 2021

Statement in support of SB 805

To the California Legislature:

Fifty-six years ago El Teatro Campesino was born on the picket lines of the Great Delano Grape Strike, led by César Chávez 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. Since 1971 from our home base in the historic Mission town of San Juan Bautista, El Teatro Campesino has served the crucible of new American theatre works and artists, despite its bare existence in one of the most financially impoverished but historically rich counties in the state. 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 Rodrigues, a beloved core company member in the 70’s 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 plan 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 Siguenza — 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.


Luis Valdez
Founding Artistic Director of El Teatro Campesino.
Writer/Director of Zoot Suit and La Bamba


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WHAT IS SB 1116?

SB 1116 establishes the Equitable Payroll Fund (EPF), which is a grant program designed to support Small Nonprofit Performing Arts Organizations (SNPAOs) – and workers directly – by providing substantial reimbursements of payroll expenses.

This program will support jobs for anyone hired as an employee by a SNPAO, including both production and non-production employees and administrative staff, not unlike the Payroll Protection Program and similar Federal and State relief efforts.

Read our fact sheet for more information.


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