Performers are laborers, too

It’s Labor Day!

This is a holiday that is “celebrated”, most often with burgers, hotdogs, sales on patio furniture and beating-the-heat summer fun, but is actually little acknowledged for its true purpose: it was established in the 19th century, to recognize the contributions of workers, and mark an awareness of the simple fact that some worker protections are needed.

In California, we’re seeing some progress in state arts investments and funding, and the recent passage of SB 1116 through both the state legislature and the California Senate is a hopeful embrace of an idea that started in the LA theater community: create an Equitable Payroll Fund to help small nonprofit performing arts organizations (SNPAOs) with grants to to support live performances and workers by providing reimbursements of payroll expenses. This program will support jobs for both production and non-production employees.

Read more about the fund here

This is a ray of sunshine in a state that has ranked 28th in our nation for arts funding, but is now seeing increased legislative interest in mending the fence. It’s not just up to them, of course. As members of the arts community, we must look, listen, and speak up when we see holes (and hopefully solutions). As you enjoy this day that marks the start of our main season, please mark the occasion by doing at least one thing to educate yourselves and connect with the policymakers who are fighting for our rights to compensation. Here are a few simple suggestions — you’ll learn more and more as you start building your awareness, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get involved:

  • Sign up for the CREATE CA newsletter, to fight for students’ essential right to arts education. Maintaining a vital arts community means starting with the littles and bringing people of all ages into artistic life in various ways. This org provides dynamic social media graphics that you can share, actual statistics regarding arts ed, and a pledge with real steps you can take that make a difference.
  • Join an advocacy organization like Californians for the Arts for policy updates, webinars and action alerts. Get involved, even if it’s just writing a letter or making a phone call when there’s an important bill or ballet measure at stake. The more you read and pay attention, the easier it will be to decide which issues are important to you (and to the greater good).
  • Attend the press rally in support of the new fund at Boston Court on Thursday:
    • THURSDAY, SEPT 8, 2022 — 10AM TO 11AM PDT
      Boston Court Pasadena, 70 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106
    • Show your colors by wearing shirts or hats that show your company logo or name
    • Bring signs, bring friends and supporters!
  • Sign up for alerts and news from city and county arts agencies, such as LA County Arts & Culture. These communications put a face on the people the folks who are creating and enforcing arts policy and distributing funds in your local area, and keep you informed about milestones like LA’s recently adopted Cultural Policy Strategic Plan. If you don’t know what they’re up to, you’re working in a vacuum. Staying in the loop can make a big difference to the orgs you’re working with, and your support DOES matter in their ability to be there to hire or inspire you.
  • Post your support of the arts, general or specific, to your social media pages. Pick an issue and speak your mind. The more the general public hears about how important the arts are to society at large, how much we do to support the economy and the workforce, the more we can raise awareness of the simple fact that our work is NOT OPTIONAL.
  • Follow these orgs and others on social media to support their posts by liking, sharing and commenting. Spread the word! Educating the public is an ongoing need, and we can all help with that one.

These are the simple things — do one of these today. And in a month or two, please try to get more involved by attending a webinar, writing to your policy peeps and current issues, volunteering a bit for an advocacy group, or getting involved in some other way. There are so many ways to contribute.

In the meantime, Happy Labor Day!

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