California lawmakers have set aside $50 million to assist small, nonprofit theaters struggling in the wake of the pandemic.
Small theaters lobbied state officials heavily for the one-time subsidy, according to the New York Times.
The assistance is available to theaters with fewer than 99 seats. Theaters and venues of all sizes were shuttered for about 15 months starting last spring.
Theater operators told lawmakers they also are under pressure from gig worker legislation that took effect just before the pandemic.
That measure requires theaters to comply with the state’s minimum wage, cover payroll taxes, worker’s compensation, and unemployment costs. Many theaters received exemptions from the measure.
The subsidy is just one of several subsidy and assistance programs included in California’s $262.6 billion budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
State lawmakers had a massive pool of money available to them, thanks in part to $76 billion in tax dollars and $27 billion in federal aid.
Lawmakers hammered out the deal over the last several months. Governor Gavin Newsom has signed several bills enacting the budget in recent weeks.
On Monday, Newsom signed a half dozen bills, including one that added $1.5 billion to a small business assistance program and another bill authorizing a second round of $600 stimulus checks to many Californians.
[NYT] — Dennis Lynch