TBA Online: News & Features: Top News

Executive Director's Note - Feb. 12: Emergency Funding for AB5

Wednesday, February 12, 2020   (6 Comments)
Posted by: TBA Staff
Share |

Since late in 2019, Theatre Bay Area and allied advocacy organizations have been working to educate both lawmakers and the field on the impacts of Assembly Bill 5 on the nonprofit arts sector. Arts organizations and individual artists alike continue to struggle understand the law’s implications. We are bringing the stories of AB5’s impacts on artists and arts groups alike to legislative offices in Sacramento.

Late last week, after hearing from a number of arts groups, advocacy organizations like California Arts Advocates, Theatre Bay Area, arts sector unions, including Actors Equity, the author of AB5, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego County), and Assembly Member Christy Smith (D-Simi Valley), announced they had issued a letter the Assembly Committee on Budget requesting a one-time allocation of $20 million to support nonprofit arts organizations in complying with the new law. The funds, if approved, would be included in the 2020-21 state budget and administered by the California Arts Council as a new grants program targeting small-budget arts organizations that make a good faith effort to comply with AB5.

Additionally, Californians for the Arts (CFTA) and California Arts Advocates (CAA), the sister, statewide advocacy organizations, have made an appeal to the California Arts Council recommending emergency grant funds to aid artists and arts organizations attempting to be in compliance with AB5. The Council’s Program Policy committee agreed to move forward with reviewing criteria for the funds proposed and will bring forward their recommendations at the next public meeting on April 1, 2020.

Addressing the need for immediate emergency funding, Julie Baker, executive director of CAA and CFTA stated, “The $20 million budget allocation would be a tremendous help for small budget arts organizations but the state’s budget does not get voted on until June and then it would take months for the grants programs to be designed and implemented. We see an urgent need for emergency funds to be made available as soon as possible as we receive daily reports of organizations reducing or closing programs as they do not have the funds available to be in compliance with AB5.”

Californians for the Arts is circulating an online petition in support of the CAC creating an emergency fund to be made available as quickly as possible. To learn more and to sign the petition follow the link below.



Mark Foehringer Dance Project SF (MFDPSF) says...
Posted Thursday, February 20, 2020
At a minimum, AB-5 should be amended to have an hours limit. Our dance company has about 15 performances a year. Our artist (musicians and dancers) work at most 150 hours, if they are engaged for every performance. In No rational mind is that an employee. We have no paid administrative staff. The legal requirements to be an employer are complex and hard to comply with. Repeal AB-5 in its entirety, now, and retroactive to enactment. Then the legislature can look into what reforms are needed to address the abuses of certain internet app-based companies that prompted this poorly thought out law.
Christian Heppinstall says...
Posted Monday, February 17, 2020
The AB5 / Small Theaters Crisis is NOW. The proposed grants are LATER. Solution: amend AB5 to allow Small Theaters to continue as they always have. Reality Check: applying for $20 million in grants is a slow process that doesn't fix the Now Problem which forces Small Theaters into non-compliance or out of business. As all of us who've applied for grants know there exist no guarantees that your organization will be awarded a grant. Then what? Opinion: AB5 is a destructive example of government overreach. While I'm pro-union it doesn't come at the cost of destroying the Small Theater Community in our state.
David Abad says...
Posted Friday, February 14, 2020
Three people have posted suggesting AB5 be amended. It is not at all clear that amending the bill will change the requirements for how workers must be classified at theater companies. In 2016 it was reported by thisstage.la that audits by EDD of The Shotgun Players in Berkeley and of CASA 0101 in Boyle Heights had concluded that workers at those theatre companies were misclassified as independent contractors when they should have been employees; those EDD findings predated, and were independent of, AB5 and the Dynamex decision. It appears that Dynamex and AB5 are not imposing new requirements, but simply awaking the community to what are the existing requirements governing the classification of workers. What's puzzling to me is why the 2016 news reports of the audits did not already accomplish that awakening.
Ron Dritz says...
Posted Thursday, February 13, 2020
Amend the bill. Exempt small community arts organizations. The $20 million is a stop gap measure that won't solve the problem long term. It will create another bureaucracy the distribute the funds. It's lip stick on a pig.
Clayton Theatre Company says...
Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2020
How about Ms. Gonzalez, write an amendment to her AB5 bill exempting non-profit theatre companies? Then there would be no need for grants or emergency funding to bail us all out. Not every actor, choreographer, stage manager, director, pit musician etc. wants to join the union and do what is now a part time passion as a full time job. If the intent of Ms. Gonzalez’s AB5 Bill was to go after Lyft and Uber then there were other ways to accomplish that. Instead, her “gig bill” will shut us (Clayton Theatre Company) down as well as many other theatre companies and other 1099 paying organizations. A perfect example of government interference and over reach! Thank you so much Ms. Gonzalez for ruining theatre companies. Sincerely (written with sarcasm), Roxanne Pardi Managing Director Clayton Theatre Company
Julie Masterson says...
Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2020
What about an amendment to the bill? Is that being worked on? Thanks.