University of La Verne
Dept. of Theatre Arts

May 10th, 2021

SUBJ: Statement in Support of SB 805 / “Save the Performing Arts Act of 2021”

TO: The California Legislature

I write to strongly urge you to vote in support of SB805. As an actor currently appearing in the Netflix series Gentefied, now nominated for a 2021 George Peabody Award, a professor of theatre, a Mexican immigrant and first‑generation college graduate, I owe the entirety of my achievements and success to California’s 99-seat /small nonprofit theatre companies including, and most especially to me, El Teatro Campesino (ETC).

I hold a Drama from Stanford University, an M.F.A. in Acting from U.S.C and a B.A. in Theatre from Whittier College. l am a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Television Arts and Sciences, Actors Branch. For over 40 yrs. I’ve been a working professional actor having received my first union card (Actors Equity) in 1978 when | performed in Luis Valdez’ iconic play Zoot Suit. Soon after, I received my SAG and AFTRA cards and in 2013, I joined the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. My list of theatre, film and television credits are extensive. (

In 1977, I was a young, eager and trained actor with no opportunities to work on any professional stage in Los Angeles and California because of the color of my skin, Mexican origin, and Spanish name. My world changed when I was cast by the small nonprofit theatre company El Teatro Campesino founded by Maestro Luis Valdez, I toured with ETC for a year and in 1978, myself and dozens of other Chicanx-Latinx actors, were cast in the Center Theatre Group’s production of Zoot Suit. This was finally the professional gateway that had eluded countless of theatre artists of color throughout the history of theatre in Los Angeles and the nation.

Twenty-five years later, in 2004 and a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford I never forgot the power of the small nonprofit theatre that changed my life. I titled my dissertation, “The political dialectic for a united Chicanx and Latin American popular political theatre front, Mexico City, 1974”.The research argued for the recognition by American Theatre, of the vital contribution and transnational influence of the hundreds of small nonprofit Chicanx-Latinx theatre companies that gave a platform and empowered tens of thousands of theatre artists of color.

To close, I add that countless theatre artists of color who were given the opportunity to work in small nonprofit theatres have used this “gateway” to open their own theatres, enter other creative professional fields and earn advanced degrees in theatre, drama, design, acting, directing, etc. To this day, these “progeny” of 99-seat / small nonprofit theatres, teach K-12, as professors in the UC and Cal State system, community colleges and in private institutions across the country. On May 20th you will not only be voting for the funding of small theatres but also, to uphold and sustain the longstanding legacy of a dynamic grassroots movement that has launched, supported and dare I say saved the lives of tens of thousands of young people of color for whom theatre is the very air they breathe.

We are counting on you.

Dr. Alma Martinez
Associate Professor
Emerita Faculty, Theatres Arts Department, UC Santa Cruz


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Steve Moyer
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Steve Moyer Public Relations @ Work: 818.784.7027
Cell: 818.337.9987


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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