California Arts Advocates

Advancing California through the arts, culture and creativity

April 20, 2021

The Honorable Senator Dave Cortese
Chair, Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee
1020 N Street, Room 545, Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Support Letter for SB 805 (Rubio) Save the Performing Arts Act of 2021, As Proposed to Be Amended

Dear Senator Cortese,

We write to respectfully request your support for SB 805 (Rubio). California Arts Advocates has been working for years to find an innovative solution to address the impact of AB 5 on small nonprofit performing arts companies, (SNPAC) who act as incubators and onramps for emerging performing arts workers particularly in traditionally underserved and under resourced communities. Our goal is to see arts workers valued for their significant contributions and for there to be corresponding investment to pay arts workers a living wage.

This bill, as proposed to be amended, will create a critical funding infrastructure to help assist SNPACs known as the “California Nonprofit Performing Arts Paymaster” which will provide low-cost payroll and paymaster services to SNPACs and establish the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund to ensure that SNPACs can pay all workers minimum wage.

California has historically lacked investment within the arts and unlike regular small organizations; SNPACs are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations established to bring culture, arts and education to all communities. These companies provide access to the arts for participants, from performers, to stage technicians, writers and directors, as well as audiences, many of whom may not have the resources to buy expensive tickets to larger playhouses. SNPAC do not have full control over the size of their workforce. They serve their community and choose seasons based on the stories that resonate with and reflect the community, the artists, and the social context of the times. For example, the size of cast, the need for designers, choreographers etc. is dependent upon the playwright and requirements of the story/production. They have historically provided networking opportunities and mentorship for BIPOC artists facilitating connections necessary for career advancement and providing performance experience that helps to open doors to work in larger, less accessible companies. Furthermore, SNPACs contribute enormously to the economic growth, social well-being and cultural vitality of the local communities they serve.

Current operating revenues are insufficient to allow SNPACs to pay all workers minimum wage. SB 05 is critical to help SNPACs create and preserve job opportunities for performers and people in the performing arts sector, particularly workers in marginalized communities. Please vote “AYE” for SB 805, when it comes before you on Monday, April 26.

Julie Baker, Executive Director, 916-296-1838
cc: Members of Senate Labor, Public employment and Retirement Committee


  Download the Original Letter



Steve Moyer
Press Contact: Steve Moyer

Steve Moyer Public Relations @ Work: 818.784.7027
Cell: 818.337.9987


  1. Karen Lin

    Thanks for your bill. Regarding “Current operating costs are insufficient to allow SNPACs to pay all workers minimum wage.” Do you mean current operating costs are too high?

    • Greg

      Yes! Small theaters generate very little revenue through their ticket sales, certainly not enough to cover all production expenses and other overhead costs such as rent, utilities and insurance.

      Small non-profit performing arts organizations already spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising to meet operating and production costs.

      SB 805 will help Small Non-Profit Performing Arts companies meet payroll requirements due to recent legislative changes.

      Thank you for your question!

      EDIT: Also, thank you for pointing out an error in the statement! It should read “current operating revenues”, not “Current operating costs”. In other words, small SNAPCs are unable to generate enough revenue in either ticket sales or fundraising in order to make enough to pay our talent onstage and back. This program will give us the necessary financial support to rectify that travesty.


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SB 805 will create a critical funding infrastructure to help assist our SMALL NONPROFIT PERFORMING ARTS COMPANIES (SNPACs), known as the PERFORMING ARTS EQUITABLE PAYROLL FUND, which will allocate matching funds to pay all workers minimum wage.

In addition, the bill also directs the California Arts Council to establish the CALIFORNIA NONPROFIT PERFORMING ARTS PAYMASTER, which will provide low-cost payroll and paymaster services to SNPACs.






“Over The last several years our organization, California Arts Advocates has worked with the legislature to investigate exemptions for small budget arts organizations that due to systemic undercapitalization of the arts and culture sector and the companion desire to keep arts affordable and accessible for all, simply cannot afford compliance with AB 5. Our deep concern now is that the one two punch of AB 5 and COVID may result in a loss of small budget arts organizations across California that are critical to offering community and educational based programs that employ emerging performers. That is why we support SB 805 and look forward to working with labor and the legislature to see its passage.”

Julie Baker
Executive Director of California for the Arts

“The world of intimate theatre provides the only access many artists, especially artists of color, have to hone their craft, network with others and ultimately achieve the kind of upward mobility that would otherwise be locked behind a paywall. This vital, grassroots pipeline will be the victim of collateral damage if we don’t find a way to make our voices heard to the powers that be.”

Marc Antonio Pritchett
Co-Artistic Director of Sacred Fools Theater Company

“Without SB 805, we will be leaving behind – and shutting out – countless local artists and stories, as well as a significant amount of representation on and off our stages.”

Oanh Nguyen
Executive Artistic Director of Chance Theater

“I’m surely not against paying actors. The Victory Theatre Center has always paid its actors. But the unintended consequences of AB 5 are that the majority of little theaters with budgets under $250,000 per year will be unable to function. The Victory will not be able to do its usual four productions per year. It’s even questionable we could do one. We could not continue our outreach to schools. The closure of the majority of small theaters would be a loss to our communities.”

Maria Gobetti
Co-Founding Artistic Director of The Victory Theatre Center

“Small professional arts organizations are immensely important because they are often the only arts incubators available for emerging talent. Without these organizations many writers, actors, directors, and designers simply would not have an opportunity to refine and show their work and be discovered. Each year, Rogue Machine offers 50 to 100 artists that opportunity to work and refine. Rogue Machine is proud that Kemp Powers, screenwriter of One Night in Miami… and Soul, and John Pollono, screenwriter of Stronger and Small Engine Repair, were able to start their careers through productions at Rogue Machine.”

John Perrin Flynn
Founding Artistic Director of Rogue Machine Theatre

“With the passage of SB 805, this bill will have a positive impact on BIPOC theaters that are doing work that benefits the public good, especially in low-income and underrepresented communities.”

Armando Molino
Artistic Director for Company of Angeles

“Small theaters don’t have development departments with a staff who focus exclusively on grant writing and donor development, nor marketing department or even a technical department. In small theaters, a very small number of people wear an inordinate number of hats to make the arts come alive. Comparing small non-profits arts organizations to other sectors of the economy is like comparing apples to oranges. There is very little money that is generated in the small performing arts world, yet we provide valuable services in terms access, representation and community building.”

Emmanuel Deleage
Executive Director of CASA 0101 Theater

“The 99-seat theater is a haven where new voices of writers and performers are nurtured in a safe environment. It allows the non-commercial stories to be developed and produced for low-income audiences who lack the financial means to experience live theater in larger houses. It is in the small 99-seat theater where we have achieved: Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility.”

Odalys Nanin
Producing Artistic Director/President of Macha Theatre Company/Films

“SB 805 will be the beacon light of hope to diverse voices and communities of color whose platforms have been and will continue to be the small non-profit theatres and visual arts organizations. It is the bridge of dreams and job opportunities to major profit theatres and arts organizations. It is the educational artistic platform for millions of young actors, artists, playwrights, designers, technicians, directors and producers whose dreams are to contribute to the artistic and social landscape. It is the foundation of the large profit theatres for their future artists and audiences. It is a step to the economic engine of this country.”

William Virchis
Producing Artistic Director of Teatro Máscara Mágica

“As an Independent Artist SB 805 which will allow me to nourish future generations with artistic tools and alternative ways to express, heal and tell their narratives of their families.”

Cristal Gonzalez
Freelance Artist