Contributed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
LOS ANGELES (April 25, 2023) — The SB1116 California Coalition, whose efforts led to the passage and signing of California’s Equitable Payroll Fund, was honored with two major awards in April: The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle named the coalition winner of the 2023 Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community, while Stage Raw bestowed its prestigious “Queen of the Angels” award upon the group.
Authored and carried by California State Senator Anthony Portantino (D–Burbank), the Equitable Payroll Fund is a grant program designed to support small nonprofit performing arts organizations and workers by providing reimbursements of payroll expenses.
The coalition is led by Open Fist Theatre Company artistic director Martha Demson; Ophelia’s Jump producing artistic director Beatrice Casagran; Casa0101 executive director Emmanuel Deleage; Center Stage Theater executive director Teri Ball; Celebration Theatre executive director Chris Maikish; actor/activist Leo Marks; actor, singer, musician and stunt performer Marc Antonio Pritchett; Rogue Machine associate artistic director Elina de Santos; and writer, producer and actor Vanessa Stewart.
“We are extremely honored to be recognized by both the LADCC and Stage Raw, but our work has just begun,” says Demson. “Although the law was passed in 2022, the program remains unfunded in the most recent budget. At a time when small nonprofit performing arts organizations continue to shutter their doors at an alarming rate, we hope our state legislators and Governor Newsom will invest in the Equitable Payroll Fund to restore California jobs and revitalize our communities and local economies.”
Leaders of the Theatre Producers of Southern California, known as TPSCA, and Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing American actors and stage managers in the theater, joined forces in January to sponsor a rally, dubbed “Catch Up, California,” in an attempt to secure funding for the groundbreaking bill.
Currently, California’s arts investment is less than a third of New York’s, and less than a sixth of Minnesota’s—even as nonprofit arts generate billions of economic activity in the state. A recent wave of closures of small nonprofit performing arts venues statewide has put the health of the sector in jeopardy.
Photo provided by the SB1116 California Coalition: Catch-Up California Rally.