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Edward James Olmos at a rally in support of the performing arts and SB 80 at the Casa 0101 Theater in Los Angeles. Photo by David Crane.
Edward James Olmos at a rally in support of the performing arts and SB 80 at the Casa 0101 Theater in Los Angeles. Photo: David Crane.

Edward James Olmos joins petition for theater bill approval

Renowned Latino actor Edward James Olmos led a rally on Wednesday, May 19 to support the passage of SB 805 in favor of the performing arts.

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This Wednesday, a group of artists gathered at CASA 0101 Theater im Boyle Heights Theater in Boyle Heights in support of Senate Bill 805. The bill would allow for the creation of funding infrastructures for small non-profit performing arts companies, and thus prevent their bankruptcy as a result of the health care crisis. A pioneering project of its kind in the United States. Edward James Olmos, Danny Glover, Josefina Lopez, Ben Guillory, Joe Spano, Kate Linder, French Stewart and Kirsten Vangsness were among the artists who appeared at the event. 

Well-known Latino actor Edward James Olmos leads the group of artists who made an appeal to the authorities.

"Without being able to do our theater, our voice is lost," Olmos warned at a press conference.

The actor also invited residents to seek the support of other legislators for this proposal that is "urgently" needed, recalling the importance of small theaters as the cradle of playwrights, actors, designers, directors and other performing arts artists.

The bill would allow for several beneficial changes for the industry, such as the creation of lower-cost payroll and payment processes for small nonprofits that bring in up to $1.4 million a year. In addition, SB 805 would also put in place a fund to award grants for organizations to achieve minimum wage or higher pay for their employees. The bill was born in Los Angeles County because it is home to many theatrical organizations.

The call for the event in support of the bill came from CASA 0101 Theater, directed by actress and playwright Josefina Lopez, who has experienced firsthand how the pandemic has hit the space's already precarious economy. Lopez, a Chicana playwright, was moved to tears and said that the aid must be delivered urgently to keep theaters open in underserved communities.

The Save The Performing Arts Act of 2021 (SB 805) is the first of its kind in the country. It has been proposed by Senator Susan Rubio, who would direct the California Arts Council to establish a fund to ensure that small performing arts companies are able to stay afloat.

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