The California State Legislature approved a $262.6 billion operating budget on Monday that Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign into law this Thursday. Boosted by a $76 billion state surplus and $27 billion in federal aid, the budget includes direct cash payments to Californians struggling from the economic fallout of COVID-19, restoration of pandemic budget cuts and expansions in healthcare and homelessness services. It also includes substantial funding for the arts—a major driver of California’s economy, and one of the industries hit hardest by COVID-19 shutdowns.
The budget, set to take effect when the fiscal year begins July 1, includes $150 million in relief funding for independent venues, live entertainment business and minor league sports.
Advocacy groups like the California chapter of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) have pushed for this kind of support at the state level for months while federal funding is still being distributed. Though Congress approved $16 billion in emergency aid for venues in December 2020, the Small Business Administration delayed payments several times, and has only moved through about half of the applications. The delays have left independent venues struggling and accruing debt, and numerous venue owners in California have argued state funding is also crucial for the live music industry to recover.