California’s beleaguered network of small, nonprofit theaters will receive a $50 million one-time subsidy under a $262 billion California state budget agreement signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Mr. Newsom and his fellow Democratic leaders in the legislature, negotiated the assistance as part of a sweeping 2021-22 budget, which includes billions in economic relief for residents and small businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic. The theater subsidy came after intense lobbying from small theaters concerned about their future after a 15-month shutdown. Compounding the effects was the prospect of sharply increased labor costs for many theaters as a result of a new gig worker law that took effect in 2020.
The theaters, which are smaller than 99 seats, already operate on shoestring budgets. Most remain closed, hoping to reopen this fall, but amid concerns about whether their audiences will return to sit in cramped halls with bad ventilation. Covid cases have been on the rise in Los Angeles, and the county has now advised people to wear masks in indoor public settings.