Jun 28, 2023

LA Times: ‘The Pause Heard ’Round the Theater World’

Comments from Ricky Abilez, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Arts for LA

On June 15, Center Theatre Group announced that it would be pausing programming at the Mark Taper Forum indefinitely. As a flagship theatre at one of the country’s largest regional organizations, the news spurred shock, sadness, and even anxiety among performing arts leaders nationwide.

The Performing Arts sector is continuing to grapple with the repercussions of pandemic shutdowns and an unstable economy. The Los Angeles Times said it most succinctly, the result has been “drastic cuts to programming, layoffs, candid pleas to subscribers about an industry-wide emergency and, in L.A., the indefinite shutdown of what for decades has been the city’s most prominent and important home for drama.”

At most performing arts institutions, audiences remain under pre-pandemic levels and in 2021 alone, the state’s Performing Arts sector lost a decade’s worth of job growth. While some theaters reopened after two years of closure, many were forced to shut their doors for good, particularly those serving historically marginalized communities. The recent Center Stage study by CVL Economics found that if current trends continue, state and local governments could see a combined $4.1 billion loss in tax revenue.

CTG’s news is yet another signal that investing in performing arts organizations is more crucial than ever. We must fund SB1116, the law known as the Equitable Payroll Fund, and continue to make the case that the arts are not simply a means of entertainment, but an economic force, social reflector, and cultural beacon of hope.

I urge all of you to read this article, take action, and support the vibrant and gripping performances at regional theaters of all sizes across Southern California.