Senator Susan Rubio Bill to Save Small Performing Arts Theaters Passes Assembly Labor Committee

June 22, 2021

SACRAMENTO, CA – The State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee today passed a bill by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) that will save community performing arts organizations and allow them to continue their important work as social justice vehicles for marginalized voices.

Senate Bill 805, “Save The Performing Arts Act of 2021,” creates a program that will offer vital funding for small non-profit performing arts organizations to help them recover from the devastating impacts caused by the pandemic, as well as help them comply with Assembly Bill 5.  The funding, slated specifically for pay for artists and production workers, will be distributed in the form of grants based on the organization’s size (i.e. smaller organizations get larger grants).  There will be a maximum revenue cap for eligible organizations. This funding will apply to all performing arts industries, including theaters, opera and dance companies, and symphony orchestras. It will also create a low-cost payroll services to nonprofit performing arts organizations.

“The performing arts have been a powerful tool for the voiceless, so I want to thank the State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee for passing SB 805l,” Sen. Rubio said. “They go hand in hand with social movements and play a critical role in communities. I know this personally. I grew up in Downtown Los Angeles at a time when drugs, gangs or violence were everywhere. Fortunately, I was a very creative child and the arts became my escape. That’s why I believe we cannot let small theaters disappear in communities when we need them most. I would also like to thank Actors’ Equity Association for its support of this important legislation.”

“Thank you, Senator Rubio, for bringing this to light,” said Edward James Olmos, award-winning actor and producer. “I’m crying right now because we are actually talking about saving the single most important aspect of the acting, producing, and directing theater world. Without small theaters, I would not have been able to create El Pachuco in Zoot Suit. I would not have been able to create Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice. I would not have been able to create Gaff in Blade Runner. I could have only gotten there, coming from East LA and Boyle Heights, with the help of small theater.

“This year – with SB 805 - we have an opportunity to begin to make bold and transformative changes in the way the state supports small performing arts companies that do so much to mentor at-risk youth, employ new artists and artists of color, and provide a home to artists with stories that big companies won’t take a chance on,” said Beatrice Casagran, the Founding Artistic Director of Ophelia’s Jump Productions and a member of the SB 805 Coalition. “This will create a bridge to a healthier more sustainable, more equitable future, where small companies can hire more workers including more union workers.”

The SB 805 Coalition consists of 57 organizations/individuals throughout the state of California, including 6 Theater Leagues, 45 small 99-seat theaters and 6 independent artists.

SB 805 Coalition Members Include: Leagues:Theatrical Producer’s League Los Angeles, Theatre Bay Area, Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates, San José Arts Advocates, Alliance of Desert Theatres; Theaters:  24th Street Theatre, Actors Co-op Theatre Company, Altarena Playhouse, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, CASA 0101 Theater, Celebration Theatre, Chance Theater, Coin & Ghost, Collaborative Artist Bloc, Company of Angels, Dezart Performs, El Teatro Campesino, Fountain Theatre, IAMA Theatre Company, Infinite Jest Theatre Company, The Inkwell Theater, Inland Valley Repertory Theater, Interact Theatre Company, Macha Theatre Company/Films, Moving Arts, New American Theatre, Numi Opera, Open Fist Theatre Company, Ophelia’s Jump, Playwrights’ Arena, Rogue Machine Theatre, Rogues Artists Ensemble, Sacred Fools Theater Company at the Broadwater, Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, Sierra Madre Playhouse, Skylight Theatre Company, SkyPilot Theatre Company, The Robey Theatre Company, The Victory Theatre Center, Theatre of NOTE, Theatre Unleashed, Teatro Máscara Mágica, Teatro Visión, Theatre West, Town Hall Theatre; Independent Artists:  producer Michaela Bulkley, Robert Fancy, Cristal Gonzalez, and hundreds of union workers in the performing arts.

SB 805 will next go to the State Assembly Appropriations Committee.


Media Contact: Edward Barrera,