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Speakers and organizers of the Catch Up California rally.

Equity, L.A. Producers Team for ‘Catch Up California’ Rally

The rally launched fundraising efforts for the Equitable Payroll Fund.

LOS ANGELES: Actors’ Equity Association and the Theatre Producers of Southern California (TPSCA) have announced a campaign to fund SB 1116, a state arts bill that passed the California legislature and was signed into law last year.

The coalition hopes to raise $50 million to launch the Equitable Payroll Fund, a grant program designed to support live performances by providing reimbursement of payroll expenses. The program will support jobs for both production and non-production employees. The coalition held a fundraising kickoff event, Catch Up California, last week at the Antaeus Theatre Company.

“This is an urgent moment for California to catch up on arts funding and support live arts workers, who have still not fully recovered from the COVID shutdown,” Equity president Kate Shindle said in a statement. “Funding the Equitable Payroll Fund now will save theatres across the state and will ensure a better future for thousands of middle-class arts workers in California, as well as all the small businesses that depend on a thriving theatre in their neighborhoods.”

Prior to the pandemic, California ranked just 28th in arts funding nationwide on a per capita basis. According to TPSCA, the number of theatres in North Hollywood shrunk from 14 before the pandemic to six. Bay Area theatres are shuttering as well.

“The future of California’s vibrant and eclectic small performing arts organizations has never been in greater peril, with new reports of closures every week,” TPSCA president Martha Demson said in a statement. “We implore the California legislature to recognize our rich cultural and artistic legacy and to act now to fund the Equitable Payroll Fund.”

Actor’s Equity Association is a U.S. labor union that represents over 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions, and providing a wide range of benefits.

Theatre Producers of Southern California is a trade association comprised of nonprofit theatrical producers. TPSCA represents producers in union negotiations to facilitate the betterment of theatre and strengthen the brand identity of Southern California theatre for audiences.

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