+1 916-800-5881

        1731 Howe Avenue, Suite 585 Sacramento, CA 95805

        How the California Nonprofit Performing Arts Paymaster (CANPAY) will help educate and support the field


        7/25/23 | Martha Demson

        As the work progresses to build a paymaster service specifically to serve to the needs of the performing arts community in California, I am struck by the widespread concerns that exists among smaller live arts employers:

        · Are we in compliance with California’s myriad of employment laws?

        · What do we NOT know that could hurt us?

        · How do we best manage payroll with all the different artist unions and reporting requirements?

        In the weeks and months to come, Californians for the Arts (CFTA) will be hosting a series of webinars specifically designed to educate theaters, operas, symphonies, and dance companies around employer best practices and to explore many of the challenging questions that have arisen over the past 3 years. Principal among these, of course, are the questions of how, as a performing arts employer, you stay on the right side of the law in California. But there are other questions, less litigious in nature, that are also of genuine concern:

        · How do we maintain a vibrant and healthy collaborative artistic environment while managing the administration of artists and production workers?

        · How without a paid administrative staff, can we handle the burden that comes from putting dozens of artists on payroll?

        Many of these questions can be answered by good legal counsel of course, but many more questions become ever more nuanced and can be more readily addressed by conversations among peers.

        One of the solutions Californians for the Arts will be offering, to help support the field in the area of employment law compliance, is CANPAY.

        CANPAY is a program that provides access to a paymaster that will facilitate payroll as well as supplement your existing administration around the greater payroll process. Californians for the Arts is working in partnership with Austin Creative Alliance (ACA), an existing nonprofit paymaster that has already been serving our communities for the past 10 years, to develop this program and ACA will provide the paymaster services in CANPAY.

        I have been surprised to discover in my preliminary outreach that many organizations are not familiar with the distinctions between a payroll system and a paymaster. A paymaster (vs a payroll system) provides not only payroll services, but also administrative support to your organization by acting as the “Employer of Record” for the individuals you hire. CANPAY will help relieve smaller performing arts organizations of many substantive administrative burdens so that you can keep your focus on your mission. For more information on CANPAY, I invite you to share those questions with us.

        Prior to launching the CANPAY informational webinars, CFTA will be sponsoring four in-person convenings statewide (San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles). The goal of these meetings will be for us all to come together as peers to discuss those more nuanced questions, and to share strategies for ongoing sustainability and resilience. With the monumental challenges facing the performing arts today, this is a critical moment for us all — arts advocates, organizational leaders, funders, and artists — to come together to learn from each other, to strengthen our creative and administrative practices, and to reinvigorate our collective advocacy.

        I hope to meet many of you in person at one of our convenings and I look forward to our ongoing education!

        Martha Demsom is Program Specialist at Californians for the Arts for The California Nonprofit Performing Arts Paymaster (CANPAY).

        Related Posts

        Join the movement


        Donate to help us advocate for legislation and funding


        Become a CA Arts Advocates member and be directly involved