The Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles
California Assembly Bill 5 poses an existential threat to all small non-profit theatres in California.
Historically, these companies have operated with a mix of volunteers and freelance artists, providing affordable programming and essential outreach services to communities as well as irreplaceable opportunities for emerging artists to develop their craft.
Please vote to save California’s small non-profit theatres!
Today in California, most small non-profit theatres with annual budgets below $1.5 million, operate with just one or two employees; in fact, many of these run with all-volunteer administrative staff. Most small non-profit theatres hire artists, designers, and other production crew on a project basis; a typical theatrical production can involve anywhere from 10 to over 40 artists and staff. The assertion that these organizations have the financial and administrative bandwidth to hire 100-200 temporary part-time employees annually is unreasonable. Thousands of artists will lose valuable compensation and opportunities, and hundreds of communities will lose access to affordable, local arts programming and education. With today’s exploding economic uncertainties, AB5 will crush the sector.
Small non-profit theatres are embedded in and work closely with their communities, giving voice to the needs and stories of underserved minority populations and artists. They provide access to theatre for those who have no access to large theatres because of geographic, language, physical, or economic barriers. Small non-profit theatres have served as steady economic engines in their communities, driving traffic to restaurants, cafes and bars, increasing business for local enterprises (printers, lumber yards, dry cleaners, etc.), raising property values, and providing work for artists. Studies published by Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts have consistently shown that arts engagement in the community dramatically improves student performance, increases voter participation, decreases crime, increases racial tolerance, and heightens a sense of connection to the community.
Small non-profit theatres have become the primary incubators for new work and emerging artists in California. Moreover, these institutions are artist collectives in which decision-making is highly inclusive, working environments are flexible, and the lines between artists and management are often fluid and overlapping. AB5 threatens this flexible and cooperative creative atmosphere and limits artists’ ability to choose to work independently and retain creative autonomy. By ignoring the special nature of this ecosystem, AB5 threatens to destroy our state’s artistic, mental, and communal well-being.
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