If you’re a US-based freelance producer or independent creative whose livelihood has been disrupted by the pandemic, there’s an array of resources out there that could be helpful to your situation. Those support structures are fluid and ever-evolving, so here are a few places compiling active lists of those resources:
The Association of Independents in Radio (AIR)’s “Resources for Freelancers Navigating COVID-19.”
The Lenfest Institute’s “Funding opportunities to support coronavirus coverage and access to reporting tools.”
If applicable, the Freelance Artist Resource Producing Collective’s “COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources.”
Consider, as well, turning to the US Small Business Administration’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources page. For producers, podcasters, and other creatives operating as sole proprietorships, small business owners, independent contractors, or self-employed individuals, the major piece to think about there is the option to apply for forgivable loans via the Paycheck Protection Program to cover payroll and various expenses. Buckle up, though, because the program’s rollout appears to be pretty shaky for what could very well have been perfectly predictable reasons.
Meanwhile, the Freelancer’s Union has a helpful guide going over a few government relief programs that have specific impacts on freelancers, along with how you can get involved in supporting the wider network of freelancers out there.
And if you’re navigating unemployment benefits, there’s a bevvy of guidance out there from national news sources, like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Consider, also, turning to your local news source for more state-specific guidance. I reckon there aren’t a ton of folks from Idaho — where I live — reading this letter, but here’s the Idaho Statesman’s version. Check yours.
Keep in mind: a lot of this is fluid and fast-changing, and it can be a lot to handle, so think about checking in with a lawyer if you’re overwhelmed grokking the options.
Finally, AIR has set up a Freelance Audio Fund to provide emergency relief for members of the professional audio community that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. They just wrapped up a first round of support that was originally limited to AIR members in good standing, which funded 37 people.
The fund opens applications for a second round today, and they’re opening the scope of eligibility to include the broader freelance audio community. Here’s CEO Ken Ikeda, describing AIR’s approach with the second round when I reached out:
It becomes an open opportunity for the freelance audio professional community. We are limited in scope to reporters, editors, producers and engineers that generally reflect AIR’s membership. Given our limited resources, we have been referring musicians to the Grammys and filmmakers to IDA and other partner organizations. We hope to be overwhelmed with applications, which should take no longer than 10 minutes to fully complete. Audio freelancers are undercounted and applications serve as a vital data point to illustrate how impacted our community is.
Good luck out there, everyone.